Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2016


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2016.


The main purpose of this research is to assess the community in the Washington neighborhood in San Jose and further understand the people living there. This survey is a result of the partnership between Santa Clara University’s Thriving Neighbors Initiative, a partnership with the university and nonprofit organizations in the neighborhood. The programs associated with the initiative focus on enhancing educational opportunities and pathways to prosperity in the Washington neighborhood. Santa Clara University has been working in the community for over thirty years and asked Laura Nichols and her Sociology students to help with the administration of aa survey (modeled on the federal Promise Neighbors research), analyze the data, and give feedback on the results. Surveys were administered at Washington Elementary School and Sacred Heart Community Services in the span of a few weeks. The quantitative survey was separated into three sections that asked questions about neighborhood, children, and personal wellness for each respondent. This report provides analysis of the 223 surveys collected during February 2016.

Demographics of the respondents were analyzed to have a fuller picture of who took the community assessment survey. Ninety-three percent of respondents took the survey in Spanish and 67% of the respondents were Mexican or Mexican American. The survey respondents were primarily female (90%) and the average age was 39. Only about 59% of the respondents were married and just under three quarters had a high school degree or less (72%). Finally demographic information showed that about a quarter of the respondents had a household income of $5,000 less to sustain them and their family for a whole year, with about 74% of respondents making $30,000 or less a year. The results of the survey demonstrate that there are many thriving areas in the Washington community that are worthy of much praise, as well as problem areas that may need more focus by community members.

Sections focusing on children's health, education of students, and overall neighborhood health and safety shed light on many positive aspects of the Washington community. It is clear that parents pay a great deal of attention to their children's health and schooling. Children eat fruits and vegetables regularly, exercise daily, and sleep about 8-9 hours a night. The majority of respondents believe it’s extremely important for their child to graduate from high school (87%) as well as continue their education thereafter (84%). In regards to neighborhood health and safety we see that the majority of respondents do not believe drugs, alcohol, or smoking is an issue for the Washington community. However larger issues are noted in regards to violence, clean air and streets, and general safety day and night in the neighborhood. It is clear that a greater focus on neighborhood safety would be beneficial to the Washington community.

With the data regarding housing as well as open spaces and green parks we can see more inconsistencies within the neighborhood. Housing is clearly a growing problem for residents. Forty-one percent of respondents note that buildings are not maintained, coupled with 55% of respondents that believe lead, cockroaches, and other health concerns are a problem for Washington buildings. Twenty-eight percent of respondents noted that they earn less than $5,000 a year to support their family, yet rent prices average between $1,150-1,350 per month in the community. Additionally, parks in the Washington community are a source of confusion for many residents. A range of answers were given regarding park safety, maintenance, and enjoyment. Continued research will need to be done on this subject to ensure the parks can be used to their fullest advantage for community members.