Economy Shutters Historic Chicago Helping Agency

January 26, 2012

A social services organization that opened its Chicago real estate to millions is abruptly closing its doors this week.

The Jane Addams Hull House Association in the West Loop, one of Chicago’s oldest and largest social and human services agencies, is ceasing operations on Friday and will be filing for bankruptcy.

The organization was founded in 1889 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams to help new immigrants adjust to life in America, at times servicing 9,000 a week.

Since then, the agency has carried on Addams’ mission of neighbors helping neighbors, providing foster care, homeless services, youth services, domestic violence counseling, senior citizen services and job and literacy training to more than 60,000 Chicago-area residents a year in close to four dozen area locations.

Last week, the organization, which is estimated to be in millions of dollars of debt, had announced it would close in March but apparently couldn’t even make it that long.

The current economy, an increase in demand for services and diminishing funds have put an end to the historic institution. The closure also means that about 300 people will lose their jobs.

“During these challenging times, we have remained committed to the mission established by Jane Addams more than 120 years ago,” said Hull House board chairman Stephen Saunders. “Now, our goal is to ensure the families and individuals we serve continue to have access to the services they need. This was a very difficult decision, but it was the responsible thing to do.”

The original Jane Addams settlement house in the West Loop.

The association is working to connect their clients with new providers, including the Metropolitan Family Services.

While the organization is closing, the original Chicago real estate will not. The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St., which is not affiliated with the Hull House Association, is a National Historic Landmark and will remain open.

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