One of Boston’s original historic settlement houses, the South Boston Neighborhood House (SBNH) was founded in 1901 with a mission ‘to support family and neighborhood life in South Boston.’ Affectionately known as “the Ollie” after founder, Olivia James, the Neighborhood House has always been known for the deep ties and connections among participants and families that have endured for generations, and the historic welcome and investment in South Boston’s immigrant populations and other new residents that continues to this day.
The South Boston Neighborhood House is the oldest continually operating human service agency in South Boston, and the community’s only independent multi-service provider. As an independent and stand-alone agency, South Boston Neighborhood House can be flexible, rapid in our response to community needs and at the forefront of community issues.
South Boston's Community
The community we serve is ever evolving. A small, densely populated inner-city neighborhood with approximately 33,000 people living in three square miles, South Boston continues to experience the dichotomy of increasing development and property values, gentrification and a rising median income while 1/3 of South Boston’s children and families remain living in poverty.
South Boston is increasingly populated by young urban professionals taking advantage of the beauty of our harbor front properties, walkways and views and our proximity to downtown. We are still a relatively safe community as well. On the other hand, South Boston has the highest rate of heroin addiction per capita in Massachusetts and the highest percentage of citizens per capita living in public housing in the City of Boston. We are a community where more than ever there is a clearly marked dividing line between the haves and have-nots.
With help from everyone, especially young professionals moving to South Boston, we can make a real difference in the lives of the people living in our community.
Our Mission and Guiding Principles:
- To positively impact the lives of South Bostonians
- To reach out and meet the needs of families experiencing social and economic stress; to be a safety net for our community’s most vulnerable residents
- To be viewed as a safe haven for children and families and elderly adults where social interaction, supervision, age-appropriate activities, and learning opportunities are ever-present
To promote, encourage and develop healthy and whole families, literacy and school readiness, academic success and college preparedness, social, civic and life skills, health and wellness and independent living
In a perfect world, everyone lives in a safe and supportive community nurtured by a loving family, attends a challenging and exciting school, enjoys employment and lives to a healthy old age. But the sad reality is that not everyone has these opportunities. With over 33% of our population living below the poverty level and over a third living in public housing, the care and commitment we offer to the community of South Boston is vital to creating a healthier neighborhood and opportunity for all.
Our caring begins with the infants and parents of our Family Engagement program and continues through the ‘Club 55’ of our Senior Program. Our commitment to providing quality programs that adapt and reflect the ever-changing needs of today’s families is paramount.