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Access to social services, especially for the poor, continues to concern numerous public policy scholars and practitioners. This recent 19-page report from the Brookings Institution (authored by Scott Allard, a professor at Brown University) takes a closer look at this phenomenon by looking at the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Released in August 2004, the report notes that, on average, poor populations in urban centers have greater spatial access to social services than poor populations living in suburban areas. The report contains a number of additional findings, including the not-so surprising observation that the location of social service providers does not always match well to the changing demographics of cities. Allard concludes the work by noting that "We should pay closer attention to how spatial trends in employment, population, and support services converge to shape demand and needs of low-income populations in our metropolitan areas."
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