About Us

Our Mission:
Bringing Neighbors Together

Neighborhood House brings neighbors together to reduce hunger and homelessness and to educate both young and old, strengthening our community by providing resources to support self-reliance, economic independence, and dignity in people of all ages and backgrounds.

We Believe to Our Core

Neighborhood House is committed to offering innovative and high-quality education, anti-poverty and senior support services. Our core strengths are:

Client-focused services: Every neighbor’s different. We reach people where they are to effectively facilitate change.

Connection: We are connected to our neighbors. When we help people in need, our entire community is strengthened.

Results: Our programs make a measurable difference in the lives of our clients and in the community.

Providing Support to Overcome Everyday Challenges

Neighborhood House believes that with the right support system, anyone can overcome serious challenges in their everyday lives. As the leading Portland-area non-profit social service provider, we deliver innovative, life-changing programs for low-income people of all ages and backgrounds.

Our programs strive to prepare children for success in school and life, help families move beyond poverty, and support seniors who wish to continue living independently.

Our dedicated team serves over 8,000 low-income children, families, and seniors each year across the greater Portland area, representing a diverse mix of ethnicities and cultures, including recent immigrants from Latin America, Africa, Russia, and the Middle East.

Your generous support will change lives.

A History of Service

Neighborhood House is extremely proud of its legacy of service. Over the past decade, we have expanded our reach beyond South and Southwest Portland, offering our innovative and effective programs all across the greater Portland area. For over a century, we have been guided by our founders’ simple, yet remarkable, vision of neighbors coming together to solve community problems and help people in need.

Our Timeline

1905

Neighborhood House was founded by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Portland Section, a visionary group committed to changing lives and the community where they lived. Early members included Tilly Selling, wife of well-known state legislator, businessman, and philanthropist Ben Selling, and Jeanette Meier, widow of Meier & Frank co-founder Aaron Meier. Their efforts were grounded in the settlement house movement, which sought to bring community members together to address the social disintegration, poverty, and other problems associated with the large waves of immigration taking place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Early programs focused on vocational training aimed at enhancing new immigrants’ ability to find employment, develop marketable skills, learn English, and gain citizenship. Neighborhood House also advocated for critical issues impacting immigrants and other vulnerable people in the community, leading local efforts to limit child labor and to convince the city to build a public park in largely immigrant South Portland.

NCJW members became strong advocates for the residents of South Portland. Photo courtesy of NCJW and Oregon Jewish Museum.

Pioneering social worker Ida Loewenberg. Photo courtesy of NCJW and Oregon Jewish Museum.

1912

Neighborhood House hired Ida Loewenberg as its first Head Worker in 1912. A highly regarded social worker in the region, she served the agency until 1945. “There seems to be an all-prevailing spirit of progress, gentleness, and feeling of good to all in the air in Neighborhood House, which becomes contagious to all watching the work.” 

From The Jewish Tribune, April 8, 1912

     

One of Neighborhood House’s first programs was a sewing school for girls. Photo courtesy of NCJW and Oregon Jewish Museum.

1920

Having established itself as a leader in ground-breaking programs for recent immigrants to the Portland area, Neighborhood House moved its focus away from vocational training and turned toward education. We opened the city’s first well-baby clinic and were among the first in the region to offer a free kindergarten. NCJW members also established a Scholarship Loan Fund, which helped provide college opportunities for children of immigrants.

Neighborhood House opened one of Portland’s first free kindergarten programs, focusing on the children of recent immigrants. Photo courtesy of NCJW and Oregon Jewish Museum.

1925

Neighborhood House added a pool to the building, becoming the place where, over the years, thousands of young Portlanders from all backgrounds learned to swim.

1949

Neighborhood House’s array of programs had continued running strong during the Great Depression and World War II, but now, the new immigrant population of Portland had greatly declined, so our focus turned to providing recreational activities.

1955

Seeing a need for a community center that was open to everyone, the NCJW decided to incorporate under the name of Neighborhood House as a separate, non-sectarian community center. Our membership grew, coming from across the entire Portland community.

1970

In response to changing community demographics, Neighborhood House returned to its settlement house roots, focusing once again on social service programs.

1982

Neighborhood House expanded its service area beyond South Portland to include adjoining Southwest Portland neighborhoods where there were virtually no services for people who needed them. To better serve this expanded community, we moved into Multnomah Village, opening our Senior Center in the Multnomah Arts Center building. The following year, the rest of the agency moved into our current home on Capitol Highway, and our Emergency Food Box Program was established soon thereafter.

1992

Neighborhood House established our Head Start Prekindergarten, Parenting Program, and Youth & Family Services to serve preschool and school-aged children and their families.

1996

Neighborhood House opened Turning Point, now called 19th Avenue Apartments, our transitional housing program for homeless families. Today, the program follows a rapid rehousing model.

2005

Our centennial year marked the addition of three SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) Community School Programs in Southwest and the Child Care Improvement Project, a countywide program, to our array of services.

2008

We became the Lead Agency in a broad collaboration providing SUN School and other anti-poverty services for Multnomah County’s Region 1, which encompasses the west side and North Portland, leading our Board to create a plan for expanding our comprehensive services into North Portland.

2014

In partnership with Home Forward, we launched a highly successful capital campaign to support the construction of a state-of-the-art early learning center (which opened in September) at the Stephens Creek Crossing affordable housing community. The Neighborhood House Children’s Center is now home to the agency’s highly-regarded preschool programs, including our long-standing Head Start program and Preschool Promise, an innovative preschool model first piloted in 2015.

2016

We launched our Senior Outreach Program, which works to connect with isolated seniors from immigrant communities, helping them access socialization opportunities and other needed services. This initiative successfully transformed the community we serve and increased the number of seniors from diverse backgrounds from just a few to nearly one-third.

TODAY

We continue our mission of bringing neighbors together throughout Portland by offering innovative and high-quality education, anti-poverty and senior support services that make a difference in the lives of our clients and the community.