In 1889, on Chicago’s Near West Side, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr opened the Hull-House as a way to give their less fortunate neighbors an education in the arts and literature. The role of the Hull-House quickly expanded, offering English class, child care and job training to the city’s rapidly growing immigrant population. Jane Addams went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The House she created has been helping Chicagoans in need ever since.
But that ends today.
At 5p.m. Chicago time, Hull House will close its doors forever. The museum that honors Jane Addams and the house she built will remain open. But, for those seeking help, the Jane Addams Hull House Association will no longer be there to give it.
The leaders at Hull House say the closure is unavoidable. They say revenue has dropped from $40 million a decade ago, to half that today. But the staff at Hull House has been telling a different story on the Association’s Facebook page.
They say the end of the charity came as a sudden and shocking surprise to them, and to the people they serve. They say because the closing was only announced this week, there’s been no time to help transition clients to other service providers. As of Wednesday, they wrote that less than half of their clients were able to find a replacement for Hull House services. And most of Hull House staff have no job prospects, no severance and no health care.
“It’s a bitter irony,” they wrote on Facebook, “that some Hull House staff members might well find themselves in desperate need of the same services that they once provided to clients.”
Hull House staff say they’ve contacted the Illinois Attorney General’s office to investigate how things got so bad so fast for Hull House, and whether management did anything illegal along the way.
Whoever is running the Hull House Facebook site says they will keep it active even after the charity closes its doors. And they’ve set up an email account for anyone who has questions. The address is AskAboutHullHouse@gmail.com.
RELATED: In November, we brought you the story of Chris Busse, a laid off teacher who launched a new business. He launched that business with the help of Hull House.