Landmark study reveals lack of access to safe spaces to live, work and play in Long Beach

The Knight Foundation-commissioned report also reveals while most residents feel these amenities are important, a national gap in access to safe spaces exist along racial and economic lines.

LONG BEACH, CA – A new groundbreaking study commissioned by Knight Foundation and conducted by the Urban Institute finds that most Long Beach metro area residents choose to live in the area for quality of life, but lack access to and safe places to live, work and play. Nationally, the report found that racial and economic disparities in accessing these amenities may exist in urban communities such as Greater Long Beach.

  • While most Greater Long Beach residents (40%) choose to live in the area for quality of life, only 29% of Long Beach metro area residents say they have access to affordable housing, below the 50% national average. 
  • When it comes to safe places to live, work and play, only 64% of Long Beach residents report easy access. This is far below the national average of 77%. 
  • Nationally, this study found that while safe spaces ultimately could create more attachment between residents and their community, low-income residents and residents of color often feel that these amenities are less accessible to them than higher-income, white residents.

“This study illustrates that while residents choose to live in Long Beach for its quality of life, there are opportunities to create paths to affordable housing and public safety,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight’s senior director of community and national initiatives. “Having safe places to live, work, and play are critical to developing a strong connection between residents and their community.”

Conducted prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns, Community Ties leverages a survey of over 11,000 Americans residing in metro areas across the country — including Long Beach — to create one of the richest datasets on what drives attachment to place. 

  • Those with access to quality of life amenities such as arts, recreational areas and safe places to live, work and play reported a deeper attachment to their community, compared with those who did not.
  • The Long Beach data reveals how attached local residents are to the Long Beach metro area and where gaps in access exist across urban amenities. It offers points of consideration for such leaders such as boosting time in the city, focusing on quality of life and paying attention to issues of equity, to strengthen residents’ ties to their communities.

As cities plan for a post-COVID-19 world and reckon with racial justice, the report provides knowledge for public officials and other community leaders to help make cities more resilient, urban public spaces more equitable, and think anew about how to build places where people want to live, work, play and stay. 

To see how your city compares in different areas with other Knight communities and the national averages, go to our interactive website

For interviews, please contact Alexa Lamanna at [email protected] or 202-320-2766.

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About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit kf.org.

About Urban Institute  

The nonprofit Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Our work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places.


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