Adobe Stock/panitan

A new NeighborWorks America survey highlights a need for resources to help people prevent loneliness.

More than 3 in 5 Americans feel that increasing communal spaces (66%), green/nature spaces (64%), and 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.

Most Americans feel a sense of community through their family, friends, neighbors, or educational institutions. However, 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, finds NeighborWorks, which has a network of nearly 250 nonprofits across the country.

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.” In comparison, that number increases for Hispanic (37%) and Black (34%) Americans, people who live in urban areas (35%), and low-income Americans (29%).

NeighborWorks president and CEO Marietta Rodriguez noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently called loneliness “a pressing health threat.” Some experts have even said loneliness may be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“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,” Rodriguez said.

According to the organization, its network of nonprofits offers different solutions, including providing resident services at housing communities. These staff members bring residents together to socialize, and they can connect residents to other important services to reduce isolation.