The Good Neighbor House is a 21st century version of a 19th century concept known as “settlement houses.” In this space, we share links to resources and texts that explain and explore this concept and its evolution over the past 100+ years.
As we develop this space further, we hope to share information about our local community/ies, too: Sanger Heights, Waco, McLennan County, and central Texas. Knowing more about our “neighbors” and the complex diversity they represent helps us to more effectively support events, activities, and experiences that are meaningful for all of us.
What is a settlement house?
Social settlements began in the 1880s in London in response to problems created by urbanization, industrialization, and immigration. The idea spread to other industrialized countries. Settlement houses typically attracted educated, native born, middle-class and upper-middle class women and men, known as “residents,” to live (settle) in poor urban neighborhoods. —Hull-House Museum website
The first and perhaps the most famous settlement house in the USA was Hull House in Chicago, founded by reformer, sociologist, author and suffragette Jane Addams. Addams was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and “is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States.” [Wikipedia]
The settlement idea was designed as an alternative to the charity practices of the day. It was common for wealthy volunteers, often with paternalistic motives, to travel daily to the poorer areas to instruct and reform people they perceived to be inferior. In contrast, the settlement workers, often college students, moved into poorer neighborhoods to live and work alongside the neighbors for community enhancement.