The Chronicle of Philanthropy


When Help Is Not Just Around the Corner

By Cassie J. Moore

Out of Reach: Place, Poverty, and the New American Welfare State
by Scott. W. Allard

In the United States, assistance for the poor has evolved from a welfare system made up primarily of cash assistance and other direct benefits into a network of social-service nonprofit groups designed to provide employment assistance, low-cost health care, child care, and other services, and less direct cash assistance.

However, writes Scott W. Allard, an associate professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, "poor persons cannot receive assistance from providers that are not located within a reasonable commuting distance of their homes, and providers, it turns out, are not equitably distributed across communities and neighborhoods."

In this book, Mr. Allard looks at three cities--Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington--to describe how social assistance delivered in each is increasingly out of reach geographically of those who need it most. He also examines the financial instability of nonprofit groups that help the poor, and compares religious and secular nonprofit service providers.

In the final chapter, "Repairing Holes in the Safety Net," Mr. Allard recommends ways that governments and nonprofit groups can make sure poor people get the help they need, including providing services outside of traditional work hours, and identifying and reaching out to those who are often missed by the social-service safety net, such as poor black men. (Read an opinion piece by Mr. Allard here)

Publisher: Yale University Press, P.O. Box 209040, New Haven, Conn. 06520;; 280 pages; $35; ISBN 0300120354.