Teaching Cleveland
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Middle School Edition: 6-8

Lesson 47

The Homeless of 1946


Students will identify the major causes of homelessness in 1946 and how the Cleveland community responded. Students will compare and contrast the homeless situation in 1946 with the homeless in 1996.



OPA - Office of Price Administration: Established in 1942 to insure against inflation during World War II. The OPA was authorized by Congress to set price ceilings. Was kept in place for a year after the war in order to control post-war inflation.


  1. Who were the "homeless" in 1946? Why were they homeless and what did the community and government of Cleveland do for the homeless in 1946?
  2. How different are the issues of the homeless in 1946 than the issues of the homeless in 1996. What are the similarities and differences?


  1. Ask students to imagine what it must have been like at the end of World War II. Ask them to imagine themselves as a soldier who has fought in the war, who has just been released from the service and is now looking forward to returning home. What will he have to do when he returns home? (find a job, marry his girlfriend, find a place to live, re-adjust to civilian life, etc.) What problems or changes might he find when he returns home? Ask students to brainstorm on what problems the community might find as soldiers return home.
  2. Distribute readings to students. If you choose to use groups with this activity, assign a different reading for each group. Ask students to identify the problem, the cause, and responses or solutions offered in the article for the problem. Each group will report their findings to the class.
  3. Distribute the charts to the class and have students complete them as the groups report.
  4. Once all groups have reported, have the class complete the present-day comparisons of homelessness on the chart. Continue the class discussion of the issues and Brainstorm solutions to the problems in 1946 and possible solutions to the problems in 1996.
  5. Have students research and identify the appropriate government agency in Cleveland that is responsible for housing and problems of the homeless. Have students write a letter to that agency expressing concerns for the homeless and possible solutions to the problem. You may choose to have them write an editorial to a local newspaper as an alternate writing activity.
  6. Additional activities may include identifying a class community project specifically designed to help the homeless in their community, such as a clothing drive, food drive, contacting a local shelter and offering specific assistance for their needs.

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