After 2020, China's anti-poverty program will move into a new stage of relative poverty governance. The inadequate development and multidimensional deprivation of functions such as housing, employment, education, medical care, sanitation, culture, and disaster prevention and reduction in rural settlements are important manifestations and causes of rural relative poverty. The governance of rural relative poverty must start from the overall optimization of rural settlements. In this study, on the basis of reviewing the relative poverty concept and by focusing on the internal connection of rural settlements and relative poverty governance, we analyzed the relationship between rural settlements and the occurrence of rural relative poverty, the optimization of rural settlements, and the establishment of a long-term mechanism of relative poverty governance; and proposed the optimization strategy of rural settlements based on relative poverty governance, in order to provide a theoretical basis for relative poverty governance and rural revitalization after 2020. The results show that: 1) The formation of rural relative poverty is closely related to the factors and functions of settlements, and is different spatially due to the differences in location, layout, scale, and form of rural settlements. 2) Rural settlements are the spatial basis for the establishment of a long-term mechanism to alleviate rural relative poverty; the establishment of the long-term governance mechanism of rural relative poverty should give full play to the functions of supporting factors and spatial carriers of rural settlements. 3) The optimization strategy of rural settlements based on relative poverty governance includes six aspects: revitalizing village industry, optimizing village spatial organization, strengthening village cultural identity, establishing green ecological villages, promoting multifunctional collaborative transformation of villages, and adopting targeted strategies.