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South LA facing large nonprofit 'service gap': report



A young South L.A. resident participates in A Place Called Home's gardening program. A Place Called Home, located on Central Avenue, is one of the relatively few nonprofits in South Los Angeles.
A young South L.A. resident participates in A Place Called Home's gardening program. A Place Called Home, located on Central Avenue, is one of the relatively few nonprofits in South Los Angeles.
José Martinez/KPCC

There's a major gap in South Los Angeles when it comes to nonprofit human services, according to a new report that mapped and analyzed more than 6,200 such organizations in L.A. County.

The report, from UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, noted that that nearly 70 percent of the people who are served by nonprofit organizations are below the poverty line. The thrust of its findings:

[Nonprofits] in poor neighborhoods are often quite small and often work in isolation from community resources and expertise. Moreover, these organizations face challenges of reaching the poor and marginalized, whose life circumstances can make it difficult to access the services offered.

Like South L.A., East L.A., Central L.A. and some parts of the San Fernando Valley were found to have big "service gaps." Thirty-one percent of L.A. County's 2,300-plus census tracts are considered poor; UCLA researchers found that several of those poor tracts in South L.A. didn't contain a single human services nonprofit, including ones in Vermont Knolls, South Park, Central Alameda, Florence and Watts.

Among the report's findings:

Wrote the researchers:

The picture that emerges from the data is of underserved neighborhoods populated by small nonprofits that rely primarily on private donations. Most of these nonprofits have been active and sophisticated in engaging in capacity-building, but continue to struggle financially.

The report noted that in "extremely poor neighborhoods," 54 percent of nonprofit activity is dedicated to either basic needs assistance or clinical services.