Poorhouses Punished People For Being Poor
Poorhouses were first introduced to England in the 17th Century. Long before Social Security, Medicaid, and Section 8 Housing, poorhouses served as a place for homeless and unemployed people to have a place to work, eat, and sleep. However, as charitable as this may seem, it was a truly awful life. People were forced into manual labor jobs like crushing rocks, bones, making bricks, spinning clothing, and more. These buildings were often unsanitary and infested with rats and bugs. All of this was actually done on purpose to make being poor as unattractive as possible. The idea was that if poorhouses were truly awful, it would motivate people to find a job and stay out of the workhouse. Of course, there were many people- especially children- who didn’t have a choice but to stay there.