Erie Neighborhood House — the oldest operating settlement house in Chicago — celebrates 150 years

The organization first opened its doors in West Town on December 4, 1870

CHICAGO — Erie Neighborhood House, a social services nonprofit headquartered in the West Town neighborhood, is celebrating its 150th anniversary of service to Chicago’s immigrant and low-income communities on December 4, 2020.

Erie House was originally founded as a “little Dutch Church” in West Town with a focus on serving the area’s immigrant population. As the city and its immigrant populations changed over the years, so did Erie House. While founded in the settlement house tradition, today, the organization is a modern social services nonprofit, serving individuals and families of all backgrounds, primarily the Latinx immigrant community.

“Throughout our history, the only constant has been change,” said Erie House Executive Director Kirstin Chernawsky. “We’ve constantly adapted over the last 150 years to meet the needs of our community, and this year has been no different. Our team has been flexible, creative, and resilient and continues to meet our community where they are to deliver what they need most.”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the long-standing organization immediately pivoted to offer remote and hybrid programming for its participants including: phone consultations for immigration legal services; virtual ESL and community literacy classes and tutoring; youth mentoring; online workshops and trainings; and more. In August, two of Erie House’s programs (Early Childhood Education and School-Age Programs) re-opened for in-person services at reduced capacity and with health and safety measures in place. All other programming remains virtual.

In May, Erie House also launched a Community Relief Fund to raise donations and provide direct financial assistance to its participant families. Through this fund, Erie House provided financial relief to more than 300 families to help them pay for rent, utilities, groceries, and whatever else was needed most as they faced challenges due to the pandemic.

About Erie Neighborhood House

Erie House is a social services nonprofit offering comprehensive services in West Town, Little Village, Humboldt Park, Back of the Yards, and soon the Near West Side, encompassing legal services, children & youth programs, adult education & training, and mental health & community wellness. Through its work, Erie House empowers the people they work alongside to build powerful communities. To learn more about Erie House, visit their website at