Home is where life happens and futures begin. But it’s tough to plan for your future if you’re struggling to pay rent. Or the only neighborhood you can afford has under-resourced schools or unsafe streets. Or if you feel like your voice doesn’t count in your own community.

Wealth, power and dignity are out of reach for too many Americans. In fact, 70% of Americans born into the lowest income bracket will never reach middle income. In 2016, the net worth of an average white family was nearly 10 times that of an average Black family.

That disparity emerged from generations of compounded disadvantage caused by structural racism in all systems, including the housing system. At fault are historic discriminatory practices like redlining and segregation, and current ones like exclusionary zoning and discrimination against residents who pay rent using vouchers.

A Path to Wealth and Equity

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People in community and in apartment windows

Enterprise is working to make home and community pathways to upward mobility. We’re building these pathways by developing community-designed strategies with local and national partners across different sectors.

Our approach is collaborative, and we are committed to carrying out this work with an anti-racist lens. Our focus is on Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities that are most likely to experience economic stagnation and downward mobility because of a legacy of racism.

We integrate housing, effective services, education and access to family-sustaining employment and wealth-building opportunities. Together with our partners, we seek to change the policies, practices and power dynamics that have historically withheld opportunity, undermined self-efficacy or promoted exclusion.

What is Upward Mobility?

Three core principles define mobility from poverty. They are: economic success; power and autonomy; and being valued in community. Enterprise built on that framework to identify five housing components – the housing bundle – that are essential to upward mobility. They include: housing stability; housing quality; housing affordability; neighborhood context; and housing that builds assets and wealth.

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colorful circle venn diagram illustrating the areas of Upward Mobility

Every community will approach these five elements of the housing bundle based on specific conditions and circumstances. But it's important that communities tackle them all at once. By focusing on housing security, we can reduce racial disparities that impede upward mobility.

Through our partnership with Enterprise, we were able to forge a relationship with our mayor’s office and start thinking about how housing and education are intertwined and move in a positive direction.
Chelsea Powell, Higher Expectations for Racine County, Wisconsin

Housing and Education Partnerships

It's no secret that children learn better when they live in a stable home in a safe community. But where you live determines where you go to school, and school funding depends on neighborhood affluence. That means parents with lower incomes can’t send their kids to better schools. We must change that.

Our collaboration with StriveTogether breaks down silos between the housing and education systems to make change happen. The goal is to build effective, cross-sector partnerships focused on upward mobility from poverty.

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Man in red outside of building

Ohio: Mobility After Homelessness

In Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, we lead a new partnership to help people exiting homelessness increase their incomes. Our systems-change work with government and nonprofit partners has transformed how the county administers benefits and is bridging homeless and employment services. To date, over 300 people have received referrals to workforce providers.

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woman helping child pack backpack

New York: Better Pathways to Success

Our two-generation approach coordinates resources for whole families in New York through a neighborhood-based network that topples barriers often separating housing and other service providers. And with government, housing and workforce partners, we built a groundbreaking new program that links New Yorkers with low incomes to quality jobs in affordable housing.

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Detroit: Incentives for Homeownership

In Northwest Detroit, a new program aims to spur homeownership, residential growth and neighborhood investment. Live Local is led by the Sinai-Grace Guild CDC with support from the Ballmer Group, Enterprise and DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital. Participants receive a forgivable loan up to $10,000 to buy a first home or make renovations on an existing home. Learn more.

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Anne Griffith

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