Settlement Houses

A Sad Development: Hull House (Chicago), Jane Addams’s Settlement House, Goes Into History!

Hull House, the original “Settlement House” founded by Jane Addams in Chicago in 1889, is “biting the dust” in difficult economic times.

Founded as a model for others, Hull House had middle class and wealthier people operating and contributing to a place where immigrants and the poor could come and receive services, much of it gained by private contributions, but also with the growing involvement of government as a commitment to those less fortunate.

With the Great Recession doing its damage, even when the Great Depression of the 1930s did not impede its work seventy years ago, Hull House becomes another victim of the lack of commitment to the poor and deprived, at the same time that the wealthy become wealthier than ever before.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on trying to “fix” political results in the White House or Congress or the states, as Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers and innumerable others are doing, as a result of the Citizens United Case of the Supreme Court two years ago, it would be so much more productive if wealthy people gave aid to what today would be called “community or neighborhood centers”.

But, of course, the fact that Barack Obama was a “community organizer” in Chicago is portrayed as if the future President was a Marxist, a Socialist, a radical, or a much maligned follower of Saul Alinsky, who has been demonized so much by Newt Gingrich, that if Alinsky was alive, he would have grounds to sue Gingrich for defamation of character.

In the midst of great deprivation, we seem to have no time to consider what poverty in America is like, what it is like to be an immigrant, what it is like to be stereotyped.

So Hull House’s demise is only a symptom of the crisis we face in an America that supposedly believes in equal opportunity and the “American Dream”, but does not practice it! Social Justice is the loser!