Access to Opportunity:  Place, Poverty, and Social Service Provision in the U.S.  
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Our safety net has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past 40 years that has profound implications for how society helps, or does not help, poor persons. While cash assistance is a critical component of our safety net, far more money is spent - some $150 to 200 billion annually - on social service programs that address basic material needs, promote work, and help low-income persons overcome barriers to greater self-sufficiency. Today, for every $1 spent on cash welfare payments, some $15 to $20 are spent on job training, adult education, child care, emergency assistance, mental health care, and other social services. This important book examines our current system, discussing the crucial role that nonprofits and geography play in the system’s ability to offer help. Click here to read the introduction to the book.

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. Click here to order Out of Reach at either in paperback or for the kindle.

Click here to read recent reviews of the book.

Excerpts from reviews of Out of Reach:

"Some imagine that our programs to help the poor are too generous. Scott Allard not only punctures this myth, but does so in a remarkably constructive way that should influence public policy for years to come. Because we don't pay enough attention to the geography of poverty, he argues, our programs may actually exacerbate existing inequalities. He makes a compelling case that we need to pay more attention to how local communities provide (or fail to provide) social services. And he offers highly practical ideas about the role of faith-based institutions that could take us beyond the dead-end ideological debate over how our religious institutions can help lift up the poor. Out of Reach makes an enormous contribution to a debate that needs to be shaken up."-
-E. J. Dionne Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics and Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right

“Out of Reach: Place, Poverty, and the New American Welfare State” is a meticulously-researched, elegantly-written, non-ideological study of how services to the poor are truly delivered today. It exposes a gross mismatch between the location of these services and where the poor actually are, as well as dramatic volatility in funding -- with the powerful implication that we are, in many cases, effectively denying services to citizens in poverty. Scott W. Allard’s objective in this book exemplifies the highest standard in research about poverty in America: not the scoring of political points, but improved public policy.
-Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

"An important book that will shape both the policy discussion of America’s social safety net and the research on antipoverty policy. . . a path-breaking book that should change the way policymakers and scholars think about and design the nation’s social safety net. It belongs on the required reading list of all who wish to understand both the fundamental changes in the safety net during the past 2 decades and the important obstacles to making the safety net more stable and accessible to all who need it."
-Bruce A. Weber, Oregon State University

"The theme of this book could not be more timely. . . This innovative book will serve as a foundation for numerous studies to follow and will be a required text in many social welfare forums."
-Ram A. Cnaan, University of Pennsylvania

"A timely book that will have major implications for American social policy."
-Steven Rathgeb Smith, Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington

"An important and original argument."
-Margaret Weir, University of California, Berkeley

280 p., 13 b/w illus.
Paper ISBN 978-0-300-12035-6, $35.00

Scott W. Allard
Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs  
University of Washington