What is a Settlement House?

The Settlement House Movement began in the late 19th century as a response to waves of European immigrants and wide-spread poverty and labor abuses in American cities during industrialization. Within these communities, settlement houses provided a range of services in one location, and they are the genesis of social work practice in the United States. These organizations were often founded and led by women, including Jane Addams, one of the founders of Hull House in Chicago and referred to as the grandmother of the American settlements (and the inspiration behind Jane Addams Place, our family shelter!). Settlement houses were meant to move beyond charity, instead bringing together people from the middle and upper classes to work with and for the poor.   

The work of Lutheran Settlement House is still animated by our settlement house roots. In the movement’s traditions, we believe: 

  • All people have the right and ability to determine the course of their own lives. 
  • People need a place where they feel safe and welcome. 
  • We meet the immediate crisis, but also provide holistic services and advocacy to address the individual or family’s underlying needs and systemic injustices.