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Thursday, April 9 • 7:15am - 8:00am
TH7.00.02 Lessons from the Demise of Hull House: Neighborhood/Community Centers At-Risk

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On January 27, 2012, Jane Adams iconic Hull House and settlement house flagship sank amidst a sea of mounting financial obligations and lack of community lifeboats to sustain its massive programs and professional crew. Going down with this legendary vessel were thousands of social service passengers who depended on it. The historic Hull House museum remains at the University of Illinois at Chicago. bit after 123 years its mission sunk too deeply to recover. Historian, Louise Knight, contends that the Hull House of today became a “an example of settlement house as government provider” (2012) having abandoned its community activist roots (Knight, 2005; 2010) to be a government dependent social service agency unable to recover from ongoing public cutbacks. She and others caution on the limits of government funding and drifting from the “grassroots” of the settlement house movement. In Settlement Houses Under Siege Fabricant and Fisher (2002) noted that settlement houses weakened by dependence on public funding and waning volunteerism and citizen participation, settlement hallmarks replaced by reliance on professionalized social services. This roundtable dialogue will focus on whether Hull House’s demise is a harbinger for other community centers on the frontlines of helping distressed urban areas. The Hull House situation underscores: • Connections of community centers to their communities and constituencies – the roots of the settlement house movement • Over-reliance on Government funding and the limitation of fund-raising with economically distressed communities and constituents • Inability to engage and mobilize grassroots, poor, and disenfranchised constituencies • waning focus in professional education on community organizing and advocacy and lobbying This roundtable hopes to generate other issues, as well as a dialogue among those interested in studying and supporting grassroots and community-based organizations and neighborhood centers.


Mr. Tracy Soska

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh

Thursday April 9, 2015 7:15am - 8:00am EDT
Grand Ballroom (2nd floor)