Dynamics of the Nonprofit Sector and Urban Delivery of Services: A Geography of Services in East Baltimore, Maryland

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This research examines the relationship between nonprofit human service activities and the characteristics of client service areas by race, gender, income, age, level of poverty and education. The data used for this neighborhood level study were obtained from the Internal Revenue Service the 2002 Statistics of Income (SOI) Business Masterfile (BMF). Neighborhood data, obtained from the 2000 U.S. Census are used as surrogates for potential client areas and service needs. The response of nonprofit entities is determined by examining the quantity and distribution of human services available within the neighborhood to identify disparities in services distribution. Services are analyzed within the social and economic context of the abject poverty and homelessness that pervades East Baltimore neighborhoods that can produce underserved areas. Services are not equally distributed across the study area. The primary results of the research show that services for the homeless, services for youth, and housing services are the most prominent service activities in East Baltimore. Services are generally matched to the population according to population needs. However, there appears to be a spatial mismatch between residents' needs and services provided for substance abuse an ex-offender services. Substance abuse rehabilitation services and ex-offender rehabilitation services are least prominent of all the nonprofit service activities. The initial analysis reveals that some neighborhoods are service rich areas while others are service poor. Despite a spatial mismatch in some service activities, the distribution of services is consistent with the view that nonprofit services are located in or near concentrations of potential clients and at-risk populations. A second analysis using factor analytical techniques reveals a number of complex and intriguing relationships between neighborhood characteristics and service activities. The findings underscore the importance of the relationship between service activities and community characteristics and that some variables, race, income, gender and education level have a positive influence on human services delivery. The research findings support the argument that service distribution of nonprofits is influenced by socioeconomic characteristics, and the scope of poverty in a community.