Poorer neighborhoods in Los Angeles County have been left with less access to nonprofit organizations that provide shelter, food, job training, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and other basic services, according to a new study released by the Center for Civil Society at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
In particular, African American neighborhoods have been hardest hit.
Spread Thin: Human Services Organizations in Poor Neighborhoods reveals that poorer neighborhoods, where needs are the greatest, contain fewer human services nonprofits than middle and upper income neighborhoods across Los Angeles County. This is especially true in South Los Angeles and high poverty areas in the San Fernando Valley.
“The spatial distribution of nonprofit human service in Los Angeles County is quite unequal,” said UCLA Luskin Social Welfare professor Zeke Hasenfeld, the lead author of the survey. “As is often the case with access to jobs and healthy foods, sections of Los Angeles County are like urban deserts when it comes to the lack of human service nonprofit organizations that are vital to improving the quality of life in poor neighborhoods.”
Spread Thin follows up on a 2011 survey of Los Angeles human services nonprofits conducted by the UCLA Center for Civil Society that documented the rising demands and falling revenues of human services nonprofits over the past decade.
“Following the results of the 2011 survey, we wanted to go deeper, to try to gauge the ‘where, what, why’ of human services nonprofits in high poverty neighborhoods,” said Bill Parent, acting director of the Center for Civil Society.
Among the report’s findings:
“What is most disturbing is that the state and federal governments are continuing to make cuts in human services to balance their budgets. The safety net as we know it is smaller and weaker, particularly for those most in need,” Parent said.
Highlights from Spread Thin: Human Services Organizations in High Poverty Neighborhoods were presented during a Tuesday event at the Center for Civil Society’s annual conference on the state of the Los Angeles nonprofit sector, to be held at the Skirball Center. The event is presented in partnership with Southern California Grantmakers, a regional association of philanthropic leaders working to support and advance effective grantmaking.. The report will be available on the Center for Civil Society web site, http://civilsociety.ucla.edu .
The conference and research are made possible by support from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, with additional support from the Weingart Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.
About the Center for Civil Society
The Center for Civil Society at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs was established in 2002 as a research center focused on civil society, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy and social enterprise. Situated across the School’s three academic departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning, the Center has developed graduate curricula; served as a convening center for scholars, practitioners, and students; and become a trusted source of data and analysis for the regional nonprofit community. The primary focus of the Center’s work is to be a catalyst in developing innovative research and public engagement initiatives on the challenges and opportunities facing urban civil society—in Los Angeles and beyond—in the next decade. civilsociety.ucla.edu
About Southern California Grantmakers
Southern California Grantmakers (SCG) is a membership association that serves as a common voice for a diverse and vibrant community of philanthropists, bound by a shared desire to make a difference by strengthening underserved communities, enhancing people’s lives and building a better future. Members represent Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Founded in 1973, SCG’s members are comprised of private sector grantmakers, including independent foundations, family foundations, corporate foundations and giving programs, community foundations, public foundations, private operating foundations, and individual philanthropists. www.socalgrantmakers.org 
About the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Founded in 1994 and dedicated in 2011, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is a leading institution for research and scholarship in the areas of public policy, social welfare and urban planning. Based in the global metropolis of Los Angeles, UCLA Luskin develops creative solutions and innovative leaders that confront challenges in public safety, sustainability and the environment, health policy, child welfare, transportation, community development, social justice, and other areas vital to the continued health and well-being of our global society. Learn more at publicaffairs.ucla.edu.