NEW REPORT: Poverty, Community Needs, and Service Access in Walla Walla

Mary Allain, Hannah Holloran, Julia Stone, Charlie Weems
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This report explores how human service and neighborhood-based organizations might best serve low-income residents. In partnership with Commitment 2 Community of Walla Walla, we assess the needs and characteristics of three low-income neighborhoods in this small rural city where many Latinos and non-Latinos alike live in poverty. We analyze the use of human services in each neighborhood, identify the demographic groups that rely upon such services, and examine the extent to which individuals and families living in poverty are able to meet their basic needs. We also consider the relationship between neighborhood identity and residents’ knowledge and use of services.

Methods: To assess the presence of poverty in Walla Walla, the needs of the specific communities within Walla, and the impact C2C has had on them, we conducted research in three ways: through surveys distributed in low-income neighborhoods, interviews with leaders in the community, and GIS analysis of social service access from different areas of town.


  • There is a large low-income population in Walla Walla concentrated in Commitment 2 Community’s target neighborhoods.
  • Human services provided by public and nonprofit agencies help low-income residents when they struggle to meet their basic needs.
  • Informal, personal relationships also help people navigate the process of seeking help to meet their needs: through such relationships, low-income residents access formal services like food banks or find assistance from family members and friends.
  • Levels of educational attainment affect income, access to formal human services, and access to health insurance.
  • White survey respondents graduate from high school at higher rates than non-White respondents, suggesting a gap and potential barrier to educational achievement.


  • Neighborhood-Based Organizations should organize more formal and unstructured activities encouraging residents to get to know each other.
  • Legislators should secure and augment funding for social services in the areas of medical care, employment assistance, food assistance, childcare, housing and utilities support and neighborhood-based organizations.
  • Hospitals, schools, social service agencies, and neighborhood-based organizations should continue to employ and hire bilingual staff members.
  • Service providers should build personal relationships between their staff members and those utilizing their services to elicit feelings of trust.

Community Partners: Julia Leavitt & Aubrey Hill, Commitment 2 Community

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