Learn More: Social Service Assets

The Social Service Assets dataset includes the following four variables: Churches, Hospitals, Libraries, and Nonprofit Organizations . Below is a chart showing the number of social service assets by type across sixteen selected neighborhoods.
Browse this Learn More page to see this dataset's metadata and why each of its variables are important to measure.

Trends in the Data


Variable Definitions:
Churches: The number of churches in a given area
Hospitals: The number of hospitals in a given area
Libraries: The number of libraries in a given area
Nonprofit Organizations: The number of nonprofit organizations in a given area
Reference U.S.A - U.S. Business Database
Years Available:
Geographic Unit:
Census Tract

Why are these Variables Important to Measure?

Although an increasing number of Americans are choosing not to identify with a particular religious group, churches remain an important social center in many communities. They can serve as a place for communities to gather, provide comfort and stability in times of crisis and social services to those in need.
While some research suggests that proximity to a hospital can reduce the risk of mortality in an emergency situation, the evidence in urban areas is limited. When individuals choose a hospital for themselves or loved ones, factors like expertise in a specific illness or treatment and history of medical errors may take precedent over location. This suggests that the quality of care in a hospital may be more important than proximity to their neighborhood.
However, close proximity to a hospital may be important to some populations in non-emergency situations. Low-income people tend to use hospitals frequently for non-emergency care for a variety of reasons. Because emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day and must accept any patient that comes to them, they are often more accessible to people who cannot afford to leave work during normal primary care hours. Furthermore, hospitals don't charge a co-pay like primary care physicians which can often be a barrier to care even for low-income people with insurance.
The importance of the number of hospitals in a given area varies greatly depending on other neighborhood factors and should be evaluated in tandem with other variables like median household income and insurance coverage rates.
The role and use of public libraries is changing as more information becomes available to people through the use of individual technology. Despite these changes, a large majority of Americans still believe that public libraries bring value to their local communities. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, public library use is relatively equally spread across urban, rural, and suburban areas and across races. Women and young people reported higher rates of usage as compared to their male and older counterparts.
Libraries can also serve as a resource for computers, internet, and job search resources, particularly for low-income communities. People also reported using libraries for health information, learning about community events and resources, and learning new technologies.
Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofits are organizations that work to fulfill goals for a particular cause. They make up a broad range of entities from large national organizations like the American Red Cross to small local animal shelters or community theaters. Nationally, about 35% of nonprofits work in the human services sector, while many others work in education, health, and environmental causes among many others. Most nonprofits are tax exempt under the 501(c)(3) section of the tax code, which also provides donors with a tax-deduction for contributions made to such organizations.
Nonprofits serve a unique role within many communities. They are situated within the private sector and can target specific populations for service delivery unlike public sector entities. Additionally, their lack of concern with profit motives allows them to focus the majority of their resources on mission and service delivery. The number of nonprofits in a neighborhood can be a measure of access to resources and services outside of traditional government avenues.

Blizzard, Rick. "Healthcare Panel: How Do People Choose Hospitals?" Gallup, 25 October 2005. Link
Horrigan, John. B. "Chapter 1: Who Uses Libraries and What They do at Their Libraries." Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology, 15 September 2015. Link
Lipka, Michael. "Why America’s ‘nones’ left religion behind." Pew Research Center, 24 August 2016. Link
"Low-Income Patients Say ER is Better Than Primary Care." Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 9 July 2013. Link 
"Proximity of hospital affects heart attack survival rate: location may affect mortality in those having their first myocardial infarction." Nursing Standard, vol. 233, no. 7, 2008, p. 16. Link
"The Importance of Organizations to Human Services." Human Services Guide, 2018. Link
"What is a 'Nonprofit'?" National Council of Nonprofits, 2018. Link
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