Jane Addams Hull House to close
The Jane Addams Hull House complex once covered a city block on Chicago's West Side. (Chicago Historical Society, Barnes Crosby photo)
"For the last several years the agency has had trouble in the fundraising side of things," said Stephen Saunders, chair of the association's board of trustees. "After many years of struggling, we have to close our doors. It was a very difficult decision."
The 123-year-old agency, headquartered at 1030 W. Van Buren St., provides foster care, domestic violence counseling and prevention services, child development programs, and job training to about 60,000 children, families and community groups each year.
Plans are to close by the end of March, Saunders said.
Despite an effort over the past two years to reduce operating costs, an increase in demand for services and a drop in donations led to the financial trouble, he said.
Hull House is working on shifting the services offered by its more than 50 programs to agencies including the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Chicago Housing Authority, Saunders said.
Hull House oversees 206 foster children and another 32 adolescents in either transitional or independent living programs, said DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe. The department is working to find other Chicago agencies to take on those cases -- an exercise that has become more common as social service agencies across the state close, he said.
"All that needs to change in a transition like this is the agency supervising the case," he said. "In the vast majority of cases we are able to maintain the child in their current foster home, and quite often with their current caseworker."
Jane Addams was an Illinois-born social worker who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on South Halsted Street is a separate entity not affected by the impending bankruptcy.
Saunders is trying to find a way for the Jane Addams name to carry on through the social service programs that will continue.
"The name Jane Addams is so important to the city of Chicago," he said. "My hope is one of the agencies would value that name ... and apply that name to either a group of programs or a location."