How has one of these settlement houses or community centers helped you or someone you know? We invite you to tell your story! Your story may be included in our upcoming documentary 'Treasures of New York: Settlement Houses'.

Rebecca Fasanello

Producer, Treasures of New York: Settlement Houses

My research of New York City’s settlement houses has gone a long way in helping me get my recommended daily requirement of 10,000 steps.

In the past several months, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the 38 settlement houses under the umbrella of United Neighborhood Houses of New York that are scattered throughout the various neighborhoods of New York City’s five boroughs, watch what they do, talk to the people who run them and to the people – of all ages and backgrounds — with whom they work.

What is a settlement house? It’s the first question I ask everyone I know these days. Rare is the person who can answer. As I attempt to explain what I’m learning about these multi-faceted, community-strengthening institutions — some with a legacy of well over 100 years — I often notice a glint of recognition in the other person’s eye. It turns out my captive audience either lives in the vicinity of one, or knows someone who works at one, or has somehow reaped the reciprocal benefits of a settlement house. The work of these vibrant non-profit centers has interested me ever since I discovered their existence.

The first settlement house in America began in New York City in 1886 to help a neighborhood in need; and it remains a vital institution to this day. It’s the Lower East Side’s University Settlement. And it’s not the only one with that kind of longevity – or enduring success!

I hope you will join us as we explore the historical, contemporary and future role of these important New York City social service networks through this program page throughout production and broadcast of “Treasures of New York: Settlement Houses.”