Abstract: Neighborhood Needs, Neighborhood Resources, and Latino/a Participation in Neighborhood Activism and Volunteerism in Chicago (Society for Social Work and Research 21st Annual Conference - Ensure Healthy Development for all Youth)

421P Neighborhood Needs, Neighborhood Resources, and Latino/a Participation in Neighborhood Activism and Volunteerism in Chicago

Saturday, January 14, 2017
Bissonet (New Orleans Marriott)
* noted as presenting author
Megan E. Gilster, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Hector Torres-Cacho, MSW, MUP, Compliance officer, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa City, IA
Cristian Meier, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Background and Purpose: By participating in civic life, Latino/as continue to work towards achieving equal opportunity and justice, one of Social Work’s Grand Challenges. Research shows that those who participate in neighborhood civic life feel more empowered, have more social ties, and report better mental health. Furthermore, through participation, residents can create neighborhood change. Nevertheless, studies consistently demonstrate lower rates of participation among Latino/as compared to non-Hispanic whites and Blacks. However, the extent to which neighborhoods affects participation among Latino/as is not well understood. Theory suggests that both neighborhood needs and resources would positively predict participation. Additionally, such neighborhood conditions may be more salient in ethnic enclaves. This study examines whether neighborhood needs and resources predict participation, and whether their relationship to participation is different for those living in a predominantly Latino neighborhood (i.e., an ethnic enclave).

Methods: This study used survey data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study (CCAHS), organization type and location data from InfoUSA, and demographic data from the 2000 US Census. Respondents were 3105 adults (age 18-92) from 343 neighborhoods. This analysis was conducted on the Latino subsample (n=802) who lived in 206 neighborhoods. Nearly two thirds of the Latino subsample were born outside of the United States. The weighted mean age was 38.2 and 53% were female. Among Latino/a respondents, 24% volunteered and only about 14% participated in activism.

Neighborhood activism was a dichotomous indicator of participating in either “a community project” or “local action” in the last 12 months. Volunteerism was a dichotomous indicator of giving one or more hours of their time to organizations. Neighborhood needs was a composite of respondents’ (N=3105) perceptions of disorder, hazards, and violence in the neighborhood aggregated to the neighborhood cluster. Neighborhood organizational resources came from InfoUSA data and was the square root of social service organizations per 10,000 residents. Predominantly Latino neighborhoods were those with 80% or more residents who identified as Hispanic/Latino. Individual controls included demographics, years in the US, home ownership, children, and neighborhood tenure.

Results: Compared to US born Latino/as, first generation immigrants who have been in the US few years were significantly less likely to be involved in each type of participation in multilevel logistic regression models. Neither neighborhood needs nor resources predicted activism in the full Latino/a sample. Neighborhood needs was associated with a higher odds of volunteering (OR=1.46, p<.05). In subsample analysis of residents of 80% Latino neighborhoods, neighborhood needs positively predicted activism (OR=2.50, p=.06) and organizational resources positively predicted volunteering (OR=1.70, p<.05).

Conclusions and Implications: Latino/as in Chicago were more likely to volunteer if they lived in neighborhoods where residents perceived more needs. However, we found that neighborhoods needs and resources matter more and matter differently among those living in predominantly Latino neighborhoods. Work towards Social Work’s Grand Challenge to achieve equal opportunity and justice among Latinos should attend to the ways in which neighborhood context structures opportunities. In particular, this research suggests that social service capacity as well as highlighting neighborhood needs may support participation in ethnic enclaves.