About Neighborhood House Association

Neighborhood House Association History

Developing children, families and future leaders of our communities through empowerment, education and wellness from our house to yours.

Leading the way in developing confident, self-sufficient, healthy families and communities.

Integrity, Service, Excellence and Employees

The Beginning

Neighborhood House Association (NHA) was established in 1914 as a non-profit 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization. NHA began as a settlement house assisting immigrants in transitioning into the San Diego Community. Nearly one hundred years later, the agency has distinguished itself as a cutting-edge comprehensive human service provider.

NHA Over the Years

100 year logoNeighborhood House Association celebrates a legacy of 100 years of service to changing the quality of life for those in need. In 1914, Helen and Mary Marston opened the Neighborhood House in San Diego. The Neighborhood House was part of a national movement known as the “settlement house movement” that was pioneered by Jane Adams throughout the late 1800’s. The original mission of settlement houses and the Neighborhood House was to assist immigrants with a variety of services and resources needed to transition into a new life in America.  Since opening its doors, the Neighborhood House has been there to help those in need during historical periods of hardship including the Mexican Revolution in 1915, the Great Depression, and World War I and II. In 1923, the Neighborhood House was incorporated and officially became known as the Neighborhood House Association.

Over the years, the Neighborhood House Association or NHA, has provided a wide array of services geared on helping underserved individuals and communities. In the last 50 years alone, more than 3.5 million individuals have been helped through a wide array of social service programs that include food distribution, education, healthcare, employment services, youth programs and senior services

NHA Today

Today, NHA provides employment to over 700 team members and touches the lives of over thousands of San Diego families a year through a network of 14 programs in more than 120 locations.

The NHA portfolio of programs is as wide and varied as the communities we serve. Current NHA programs range from early childhood development in Head Start to an innovative nutrition program, to health programs like HIV/AIDS case management, mental health services, Adult Day Health Care services, youth services and Senior Services. At NHA we provide more than just physical or emotional support – we instill a belief of a better tomorrow through empowerment, education and wellness. With its long, rich history, its national and international recognition for its efforts, and the multifaceted programs offered, NHA has become a vital resource for the entire San Diego region.

We invite everyone to become part of the NHA legacy as we commemorate a century of service throughout 2014. Together, we can continue making a difference for future generations and build upon a tradition of social change and empowerment for our communities. We invite you to visit the NHA website to learn more about the 100 year celebration and the NHA programs that are making a difference. Together we can insure NHA remains a neighbor you can count on… since 1914.

For a complete list of NHA’s historical timeline, please visit our 100 Year Celebration page.


  • In 1888, the College Women’s Club started the “settlement house” to assist Mexican, Portuguese, Italian and Chinese immigrants with settling in the community.


  • NHA began in 1914, when the First Baptist Church school merged with San Diego Normal School Women’s Club.


  • In 1920, NHA helped start the Community Chest now known as the United Way of San Diego County.
  • In 1923, NHA was incorporated by Helen and Mary Marston, Emma Way, W. Templeton Johnson, Rebecca Halley, and Mrs. John L. Bacon.


  • NHA became the first Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) certified housing counseling agency in San Diego County
  • NHA received the Head Start Program
  • 41st Street Center opened
  • NHA became the first grantee for Head Start Programs in San Diego County
  • San Diego Food Bank (SDFB) was established


  • Adult Day Health Care was initiated


  • NHA began HIV/AIDS services program
  • NHA opened its administrative headquarters on Copley Drive
  • The Connection Program was established


  • Head Start enrollment exceeded 10,000
  • Community computer lab opened at 41st Street Center
  • NHA purchased the new SDFB site on Distribution Way
  • NHA hosted its 90th Anniversary Celebration at the U.S. Grant Hotel
  • August 2006, the Board of Directors named Rudolph A. Johnson, III as the President and CEO of Neighborhood House Association. Johnson succeeded the late Dr. Howard Carey, who served the agency for more than 34 years.