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The Neighborhood House Association San Diego (NHA) is a social service agency that serves 24,000 families in San Diego, CA each year. NHA was founded as a settlement house in 1914 by Helen and Mary Marston, daughters of George Marston. Today, NHA operates 12 programs ranging from early childhood development, to mental health services, to senior services.

File:NHA Building.JPG

Mission and Vision


Developing children, families, and future leaders of our communities through empowerment, education, and wellness from our house to yours.[1]


Leading the way in developing confident, self-sufficient, healthy families and communities.[2]

File:Nha logo.png


Neighborhood House Beginnings

NHA was founded during the Settlement House Movement of the 1900' Inspired by Jane Addams, founder of Hull House, Helen and Mary Marston founded the Neighborhood House[3] as a project with the College Woman's Club (now the American Association of University Women). The project was started to address the needs of the city's growing immigrant population. The very first Neighborhood House building was erected in the in the Logan Heights community of San Diego, an area that was home to many of San Diego's Mexican and Latino migrant population.[4] Some of the original programs of the Neighborhood House addressed public health, education, and recreation. The settlement home, which earned the community nickname "Big Neighbor,"[5] helped the new residents transition to life in America with a health clinic to combat high infant mortality, a kindergarten class, and social dances and clubs.[6]

Expansion of Service

The Neighborhood House continued to operate as a settlement, providing resources and support exclusively to Logan Heights' primarily Mexican-American community, until the 1960's. Between 1960 and 1965 NHA opened two new service centers at Chollas Center and Grant Hill, and in 1962, purchased property from the Crippled Children's Service. Additionally, NHA applied for funds from the Economic Opportunity Act and became a delegate agency during the Neighborhood Development phase of the War on Poverty. In order to keep with the new requirements of the federal funds, NHA moved away from their traditional settlement services and expanded their programs to include employment counseling, housing services, emergency services, paralegal services, and coordination of community health and welfare services. NHA began Head Start classes by 1964.[7] In 1970, NHA broke ground on new administrative offices in Mountain View.[7]

In the 1970's, NHA Established the San Diego Food Bank. The agency ran the food bank for 30 years before it spun off to private ownership.

In the 1990's, NHA established its headquarters in the Clairemont Mesa area of San Diego. In 2008, it was renamed the Howard H. Carey Administrative Center, in honor of the longest serving president of NHA, Dr. Howard H. Carey.

In 2013, NHA partnered with group ARAMARK for an enhancement of the Adult Day Health Care Center (ADHC) program building. Together with City Year and many volunteers; ARAMARK established an ARAMARK Building Community Opportunity Zone for health and wellness at ADHC on October 2, 2013.[8]

As of 2014, NHA has 700 employees and 120 locations around San Diego. About 40-45 percent of those who NHA San Diego serves are of Latino/Hispanic origin. NHA is the largest multi-purpose human services organization in San Diego County.[9]

100 Year Celebration

In 2014, NHA held a series of events to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The year long celebration included a kick-off event at the Marston House in Balboa Park, a chef's cooking showcase featuring San Diegan celebrity chefs: Javier Plascencia of Romesco's Mexiterranean and Tijuana's Misión19, Bernard Guillas of the Marine Room, Andrew Spurgin of Bespoke Event Styling & Menu Design, Deborah Scott from the Cohn Restaurant Group, and Chad White of Plancha Baja Med, La Justina in Tijuana and Craft Pizza.[10] The NHA 100 year celebration also included a celebrity golf tournament featuring:

The NHA 100 celebration finished with a community resource fair, and a black tie gala, featuring a keynote speech from Rep. Jim Clyburn.


CEO Rudolph Johnson III
File:Rj headshot.png

Neighborhood San Diego is lead by its President and CEO Mr. Rudolph Johnson III. Johnson III once participated in Neighborhood House Association’s Federal Headstart program as a child, and now serves as the company's CEO. Johnson III holds a master of arts degree in public administration from San Diego State University and a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Texas Southern University. He currently serves a board member for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the American Red Cross San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter. Johnson III is also the current vice chair for the Congressional Black Caucus 21st Century Council. Johnson III has received many accolades for his leadership in the community including the Charlie Joiner Winning Spirit Award, 2010 KPBS Black History Month Local Hero Award. He also finished as a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s “Most Admired CEO Award.” Mr. Johnson co-authored the book titled, Strategies for Building an Agile Organization. .[12]

Dr. Howard Carey

Neighborhood House experienced its greatest period of growth and expansion as a company under the leadership of former President & CEO of Dr. Howard Carey. Dr. Carey, a graduate of Morehouse College lead Neighborhood house for 33 years, from 1972 to 2005. "He never turned his back on anybody who needed his help, and he took a small settlement house and turned it into a $100 million organization," said John Johnson, a friend of 50 years and former head of the San Diego Urban League. In 2005, Carey passed away at the age of 68.[13]


Head Start

NHA Head Start preschool programs provide services to children ages 3 – 5 years of age. The preschool curriculum is research-based and is designed to develop Kindergarten readiness skills. Additional services include:

  • Child health
  • Mental health, nutrition and family social services
  • Training and workshops for parents.[14]
Nutrition Services

NHA’s Nutrition Services receives, handles, prepares and transports food according to all federal, state and local laws pertaining to safe food handling. NHA’s competitively-priced food service operation features:

  • Kid-tested and approved meals
  • Ethnically diverse menus
  • Natural and organic foods Recipes that are homemade in our facility daily
  • Conversions to accommodate food allergies and intolerances
  • Ability to use the menu as a nutrition teaching tool for children and families
Senior Service Center

Neighborhood House Association’s Senior Service Center provides daily breakfast and lunch meals to adults 60 years of age and older.Neighborhood House Association’s Senior Service Center also provides a variety of activities.[15]

  • Arts and crafts
  • Dance classes
  • Exercise Field trips
  • Health and nutrition education
  • Music classes
  • On-site games
  • Yoga
Geriatric Specialty

NHA’s Geriatric Specialty Program is a fieldbased program providing mental health services to seniors who reside in the Central San Diego area and neighboring communities. The focus of the program is to reach out and provide support to those who are not able to seek assistance from other mental health settings.[16] Services Provided:

  • In-home mental health screening & assessments
  • In-home mental health screening & assessments
  • Short-term wellness support
  • Comprehensive referrals to support community-based living
  • Community Outreach & Education
Adult Day Health Care and Adult Day Program

ADHC is a medical-model program designed for adults with disabling physical, mental, cognitive or developmental impairments that provides nursing, rehabilitative therapies, nutrition and psycho-social services.[17] ADHC provides a variety of services, including:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Social Services Occupational Therapy
  • Recreation & Social Interaction Speech Therapy
  • Hot Lunch and Snacks Nursing Services
  • Psychological Services
  • Nutrition Counseling
Project Enable

Neighborhood House Association’s Project Enable BPSR Wellness & Recovery Center provides time-limited outpatient specialty mental health services to adults 18 years of age and older who are affected by serious and persistent mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders that interfere with their ability to function in key life roles, as parents, students, spouses and employees.[18] Services:

  • Mental health assessment
  • Medication management
  • Case management
  • Crisis intervention
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Specialty services for transitional age youth (18-24 years of age) including independent living skills, employment and vocational support, anger management, healthy living, art therapy and socialization.
  • Geriatric specialty services for adults 60 years of age and older, including mental heath screening and assessment, education, wellness support and counseling, targeted case management and linkage to primary care and community services.
Friendship Clubhouse

Neighborhood House Association’s Friendship Clubhouse is a member-driven psychosocial rehabilitation program for adults with severe and persistent mental illness, including those who may have a co-occurring substance use disorder. Neighborhood House Association’s Friendship Clubhouse offers a variety of activities to its members, including:[19]

  • Self help groups
  • Independent living skills
  • Peer support and advocacy
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Vocational support groups
  • Assistance with employment and volunteer opportunities
  • Computer lab Indoor and outdoor games and entertainment
  • Field trips Arts & crafts Health & fitness
  • Referrals
HIV/AIDS Services

The program provides comprehensive, ongoing assistance to individuals with HIV/AIDS. Case Management staff advocates on behalf of clients to ensure proper treatment and care. The program consists of three components: intensive case management for ex-offenders, general case management and peer advocacy.[20] Case Management helps clients access the following:

  • Appropriate medical, mental health and dental care as needed
  • Assistance with HIV/AIDS medication costs
  • Social security referrals for eligible clients
  • Applications for low-income housing EARP (Emergency Assistance Resource Pool) assistance for housing, utility and clothing costs
  • Assistance with obtaining food or meal delivery
  • Referrals to treatment facilities for in-patient and out-patient substance abuse treatment
  • Referrals for free or low-cost legal services
  • Referrals for support groups Referrals for vocational training.
Homework Center

The NHA Homework Center offers a safe after-school study environment to children and teens, grades 3-12, whose circumstances place them at-risk for academic deficiency. The homework center provides junior high and high school students with a quiet, safe place to study when their alternatives are limited. Use of NHA’s Howework Center is free to qualifying students and features:[21]

  • Transportation from Designated Areas to the Homework Center
  • New Tablets and Computers
  • Wi-Fi Internet Access
  • Homework Help
  • Color and Black & White Printers
  • Free School Supplies
  • Free Healthy Snacks

A social enterprise through which NHA offers leadership, staff and organizational trainings and workshops to other non-profit, educational and for-profit organizations.[22]

HUD Housing Counseling

The Neighborhood House Association’s Housing Counseling program offers education and counseling to renters, landlords, homeowners and potential homeowners. This comprehensive housing counseling program promotes homeownership and foreclosure prevention, safe and adequate rental housing and resolution of tenant/landlord disputes. NHA’s Housing Counseling program offers a variety of rental placement and home ownership services, including:[23]

  • Mortgage default
  • Delinquency and foreclosure prevention counseling
  • Loan modification counseling
  • Mortgage scam assistance/awareness
  • Counseling on avoiding predatory lenders
  • Rental placement counseling and referrals
  • Tenant/landlord counseling and/or no-cost legal referrals

Accomplishments and Recognition

In 2012, NHA's Nutrition Services program was recognized by Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign for transforming the NHA Head Start menu and creating healthy meal options for children.[24] This program is lead by registered dietitian Kristine Smith alongside Neighborhood House Nutrition Services Chefs making healthy meals for thousands of Head Start attendees. The Nutrition Services program is replacing hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets with nutrient rich foods and snacks like whole grain bagels, fresh chicken with homemade barbeque sauce and of course vegetables. Dietitian Kristine Smith says that NHA's nutrition services program is debunking the myth that "children don’t like healthy foods.[25]


  1. NHA Website- History.
  2. NHA Website- History.
  3. Garcia, Maria. "San Diego Free Press". A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: 1918-1929. 
  5. Garcia, Maria. "San Diego Free Press". A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: 1918-1929. 
  6. Dittmyer ,1, Grant, 2, Scott, 1, Kathryn, 2. A Historical Study of the Neighborhood House Association. San Diego, CA. pp. 34-35. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Garcia, Maria. "San Diego Free Press". The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Laura Rodriguez, the Family Matriarch Who Became Barrio Activist. 
  8. The Adult Day Health Care Center gets a facelift!. Retrieved on 23 June 2015.
  9. After 100 years, Neighborhood House Association remains “very true to its mission”. Retrieved on 23 June 2015.
  10. Celebrity Chefs Table---Neighborhood House Association Blog. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  11. 2014 NHA Celebrity Golf Tournament.
  12. Rudolph A. Johnson III – 2013 Top 100 Under 50 Executive Leader. Retrieved on 23 June 2015.
  13. Steinberg, James (7 September 2005). "Giant for 33 years at Neighborhood House". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  14. Head Start---Neighborhood House Association Blog.
  15. Senior Service Center---Neighborhood House. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  16. Geriatric Specialty---Neighborhood House Association Blog. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  17. Adult Day Health Care Center---Neighborhood House Association Blog. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  18. Project Enable---Neighborhood House Association Blog. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  19. Friendship Clubhouse---Neighborhood House Association Blog.
  20. HIV/AIDS Services---Neighborhood House. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  21. Homework Center---Neighborhood House Association Blog. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  22. InnoVisions-Consulting.
  23. Housing Counseling---Neighborhood House Association Blog. Retrieved on 25 June 2015.
  24. In San Diego, A Menu Makeover at Head Start.
  25. In San Diego, A Menu Makeover at Head Start. Retrieved on 23 June 2015.
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