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Out of Reach

Out of Reach: Place, Poverty, and the New American Welfare State

Scott W. Allard
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Out of Reach
    Book Description:

    Sweeping changes in welfare programs since 1996 have transformed the way America cares for its poor. Today, for every dollar spent on cash welfare payments, some twenty dollars are spent on service programs targeted at the working poor-job training, adult education, child care, emergency assistance, mental health care, and other social services. This important book examines our current system and the crucial role that geography plays in the system's ability to offer help.

    Drawing on unique survey data from almost 1,500 faith-based and secular service organizations in three cities, Scott W. Allard examines which agencies are most accessible to poor populations and looks at the profound impact of unstable funding on assistance programs. Allard argues that the new system has become less equitable and reliable, and he concludes with practical policy recommendations that address some of the more pressing issues in improving the safety net.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15283-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In 1985, a poor single mother without a job who was seeking assistance to help provide the basic needs for her family might have received aid in the form of a welfare check, along with food stamps and Medicaid. These were prominent components of the government “safety net,” or the system of support for poor families also sometimes referred to as the “welfare state.” They were predictable and relatively easily accessed sources of assistance for those who were eligible. In most instances, such assistance would not require one to work in order to receive it, and, as important, the amount...

  6. Chapter 2 Place, Poverty, and the New American Welfare State
    (pp. 9-46)

    The “safety net,” a term we use to describe a system of security that ensures no one falls below a minimum standard of living, can be thought of as a bundle of government and nongovernment antipoverty programs targeted at low-income populations who lack adequate income, food, housing, or access to health care. Also referred to as the “welfare state,” the safety net offers protection from severe material hardship and helps to achieve better economic outcomes.¹

    Some safety net programs are designed to reduce the prevalence of material poverty. For example, government programs such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy...

  7. Chapter 3 Spatial Inequality in the Safety Net
    (pp. 47-87)

    As discussed in chapter 2, the vast majority of safety net assistance is delivered through social service programs and agencies. Policymakers and scholars often refer to these forms of antipoverty assistance as person-based aid, because the programs are targeted at individual needs or personal barriers to self-sufficiency. As the label suggests, person-based assistance is seldom linked to issues of place, which are common in discussions of concentrated poverty and the segregation or isolation of poor persons in communities with few opportunities. Yet place is intimately intertwined in the delivery of social service programs. Since most such programs are accessed at...

  8. Chapter 4 The Financing and Stability of Organizations Serving the Poor
    (pp. 88-117)

    When executives and program managers from social service agencies are asked about the primary challenges confronting their agencies, many will mention the importance of securing, maintaining, and supplementing program funding or resources. Funding is of primary concern because the ability of any service provider to fulfill its mission is dependent on adequate and reliable revenues. Agencies with access to steady and predictable flows of monetary income or in-kind donations will offer consistent and dependable services; agencies with less reliable streams of income will be in a perpetual state of flux, and the provision of assistance will be more volatile.


  9. Chapter 5 A Comparison of Faith-Based and Secular Nonprofit Service Providers
    (pp. 118-144)

    Contrary to popular (mis)perceptions, the American safety net is not composed solely of national welfare cash assistance programs delivered by large public bureaucracies. Instead communities operate local safety nets that are largely collections of public and nonprofit social service agencies. While public assistance programs like welfare, Medicaid, or food stamps provide important support to poor families, local safety nets also offer a wide range of social services that support work and seek to improve the well-being of poor populations. As discussed above, however, local service-based safety nets provide less equitable and stable support than we might assume. Policymakers and community...

  10. Chapter 6 The Politics of a Fragmented Welfare State
    (pp. 145-170)

    Antipoverty assistance in America is dramatically different today than even a decade ago. Social services supporting work and addressing barriers to self-sufficiency occupy a far larger share of our safety net spending than welfare cash assistance or other income maintenance programs. Today public programs spend more than $100 billion annually on a range of social services for poor persons, while nonprofit service providers generate revenues nearing $100 billion annually to help disadvantaged populations. By comparison, the federal government spends $36 billion on the EITC, with federal and state governments spending about $11 billion on welfare cash assistance. To a greater...

  11. Chapter 7 Repairing Holes in the Safety Net
    (pp. 171-196)

    It is a challenging time to serve poor persons in America: poverty has increased, the cost of living has increased, and more families have a hard time making ends meet. Welfare reform reauthorization has made it tougher for states to provide cash assistance to poor families that face severe barriers to employment and economic self-sufficiency. Federal, state, and local governments are experiencing budget problems that will create pressure to reduce social service program expenditures and cash assistance to the working poor. Nonprofit service organizations are finding it tougher and tougher to maintain program budgets, and nonprofit philanthropies do not have...

  12. Technical Appendix
    (pp. 197-230)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 231-244)
  14. References
    (pp. 245-258)
  15. Index
    (pp. 259-266)