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Survey: Social isolation critically impacts people living in urban areas, lower-income Americans, and Black and Hispanic communi

Survey: Social isolation critically impacts people living in urban areas, lower-income Americans, and Black and Hispanic communities

PR Newswire

NeighborWorks offers resources to reduce loneliness

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- While most Americans feel a sense of community through their family, friends, neighbors or educational institutions, the impacts of social isolation are particularly felt among historically marginalized groups, including lower-income Americans and Black and Hispanic communities, and those living in urban areas, according to a new survey from NeighborWorks America.

According to the survey, 3 out of 4 Americans said social connections with friends (73%) and family (75%) make them feel like part of a community, while more than half cited social connections with neighbors (55%) and school or educational institutions (65%) making them feel those ties. But the impacts of social isolation haven't affected people equally. When asked how difficult, if at all, it's been to resume social activities following the most socially isolated times of the COVID-19 pandemic, 27% of Americans said "very" or "somewhat difficult" while that number increases for Hispanic (37%) and Black (34%) Americans, people who live in urban areas (35%), and low-income Americans (29%).

"As growing economic and social disparities in the U.S. threaten to stall progress for many families, and The World Health Organization (WHO) calls loneliness a 'pressing health threat,'

leaders need to help people respond to life's challenges and build a foundation to stand on," said NeighborWorks America President & CEO Marietta Rodriguez. "Investment in comprehensive community development is critical right now to help communities become more resilient in the future, particularly for historically marginalized groups who've faced systemic challenges that remain today."

NeighborWorks' survey highlights a need for resources to help prevent loneliness and to create safe spaces for people to gather and connect with one another. More than three-in-five Americans feel that increasing communal spaces (66%), increasing green/nature spaces (64%), and increasing access to arts and cultural activities (63%) would be impactful ways to lessen social isolation. Additionally, Americans said improved access to food/groceries (39%), health care (35%), and affordable housing (27%) were the most important areas of daily life to develop in order to help those experiencing social isolation.

Here are solutions NeighborWorks offers to those experiencing social isolation:

  • Resident services to bridge the gap: Resident services staff at NeighborWorks network organizations bring residents together to socialize with one another and to take actions to improve their community. They also help residents connect to services such as food, rental assistance, and financial asset building that help provide a boost of support for residents. In fiscal year 2022, 93 network organizations (38%) had services designed to promote community ties, either with support to reduce social isolation or with assistance integrating into the community. These programs include services designed to help individuals feel less isolated and include things like regular phone calls, home visits, or social opportunities, and may connect residents to community recreation, employment, transportation, and education.
  • Arts and cultural activities to keep communities connected: Many network organizations use arts and culture-based strategies to engage and connect communities – this was especially true during the pandemic when organizations adapted their in-person gatherings and found creative methods to combat social isolation.
  • Health care and wellness programming: NeighborWorks network organizations like Community Partners of South Florida, ONE Neighborhood Builders, and Beyond Housing provide healthcare services and wellness programming directly to residents. These services create opportunities to build relationships with each other around healthy activities and supporting their well-being.
  • Community Building programs: Over half of the NeighborWorks network supports community planning, community celebrations and other community building initiatives that facilitate strong community relationships and build connections across sectors.

Additionally, NeighborWorks America offers resources that spotlight how community development can address the health impacts of isolation, such as Community health worker as a model, Community Development Counteracts Isolation - NeighborWorks America, and Beyond COVID: Exploring the NeighborWorks Network COVID-19 Response Work as a Foundation to Building Thriving, Resilient Communities.  

About NeighborWorks America  

For 45 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 250 nonprofits in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation's leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment and education.  

About the NeighborWorks survey 

The survey was conducted by Morning Consult Nov. 10-12, 2023, among a sample of 2,205 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.


Lindsay Moore, NeighborWorks America Media


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SOURCE NeighborWorks America

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