(poor·house) NOUN: Tax-supported residential institutions to which indigent people were required to go if they could not support themselves. They were started as a method of providing a less expensive (to the taxpayers) alternative to what was called "outdoor relief." People requested help from the community Overseer of the Poor, an elected town official. If the need was great or likely to be long-term, they were sent to the poorhouse instead of being given relief. After the Social Security Act of 1935 many poorhouses evolved into rest homes or nursing homes.