Empowering Low Income Families

Building an Enriched Neighborhood® is not as simple as offering services. It is incorporation of a community building model that defines what services, in what order and how these interact with the developmental exchange between neighbors as well as the intentional creation of partnerships with services providers who have adapted stellar services for work with low income families. The results should be to empower families to be self-sufficient and move into the middle class due to access to improved education, health, advocacy, and homeownership.

To develop a model that is both proven and replicable, it must not only have a replicable service design, but also well-developed research tools and inter-rater reliability. "Bean counting" is not sufficient, i.e., stating numbers served, rather research should focus on proven indicators of ongoing self-sufficiency and economic upward mobility as well as well-being and health.

To measure outcomes of Enriched Neighborhood® services with low-income families, a survey tool was created by the Urban Planning Department of California State University, Northridge and has been conducted over nine years with over six cohorts for low-income families with over 350 family members. 46 families have completed being tracked for a seven to eight year period (five total research points) and 41 are still under study plus our new veteran cohorts.

What We Measure


  • Dropout rates
  • Graduation rates
  • College/4-year university attendance
  • Trade school attendance
  • Post-secondary graduation
  • Marital status
  • Teen pregnancies
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Healthcare coverage
  • English first language/English speaking


  • Type of employment
  • Job title
  • Job retention
  • Number of jobs since move-in
  • High school graduation
  • College or trade school since selection
  • Return to school since move in
  • Number of English speakers
  • Healthcare coverage
  • Number of adults employed
  • Unemployed
  • Move-in combined income compared to current

How We Measure

Research Protocol

Families are interviewed in accordance with a prescribed methodology and format in person bi-annually. Each family in each controlled cohort is offered the same enrichment classes and has the same type of built environment. The only differing factor is the size of the community. No community is less than 12 families. Cohorts can be phases as well as entire communities. They are based on concurrent participation in the Enriched Neighborhood® program and move-in.

The first survey is done on move-in date. This data is then compared to the second survey done 2 years after move-in date and so on until 5 surveys have been completed (approximately 10 years). This provides us with data over a longitudinal period, allowing time for children to grow, parents to become more educated and be part of a community. Data is verified through interviews with local high school principals, diplomas, report cards, pay stubs, the census, college campuses, and libraries. The results are then compared to aggregate data sets for the surrounding community to determine the impact.

The veteran communities have begun a new set of control groups/cohorts because there are new enrichment services being introduced. However, the measurement instruments will be the same to allow comparisons between the civilian and veteran communities. For our veteran families we have added trauma informed art therapy sessions, the landmark UCLA FOCUS program and other veteran centered and trauma-informed care partnerships. The measurement for effectiveness of these sessions is through the industry standard General Self-Efficacy Scale, following the guidelines to embed it at random in a more comprehensive questionnaire. This scale, given several times throughout the process, measures perceived self-efficacy which allows goal-setting, persistence in face of barriers and recovery from setbacks. Additional reports are provided through leader-reported progress, self-efficacy surveys and the continued participation in the program before and after veterans receive their homes.

Once all the data has been collected and calculated it is saved in a database for future comparisons.

It is our hope and intent to facilitate the continuation of this research in aggregate from all Enriched Neighborhoods® done in partnership with CalVet.

Highlights from Pilot Sites (Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV)

  • 99.9% graduation rates from high school, with an average GPA of 3.0
  • 91% attendance at college or trade school with over 46% attending 4-year universities
  • 0% defaults or foreclosures
  • 0% teen pregnancies after moving into Habitat homes
  • Habitat homeowners have been employed at their current job for an average of 7.18 years
  • 13.95% of parents among Habitat households have returned to school for a degree or certified program to advance employment

How We Compare

Example comparisons from outcome research.