In designing upgrading programs, and particularly when scaling-up, there is a need to have an understanding of the socio-economic situation of the communities that will be affected. Poverty Assessments can be specially designed to assess the situation of the urban poor in particular countries and/or cities, which would enable project teams to know how the affected communities fit into the larger city-wide situation of poverty. Information on communities' capacity and willingness to pay is also a critical input into designing an effective and affordable project. Beyond the collection of information, there is a need to take into account the ability of individuals in these communities to mobilize non-monetary assets such as social capital, and how they can protect existing assets and build on those assets.
There is also a need to understand external factors affecting the lives of these communities, such as violence, crime, gangs and how to use the community itself to organize responses to those problems. Similarly, the daily issues of living and working in communities and within the city for the poorest of poor (mostly women) all require special attention. In many of these communities, the lack of employment and underemployment is a major issue, and are often the root cause of some of the other social issues such as violence and crime. All of these areas of action need to be considered in a larger scale program.
However, not every upgrading project can, nor should, directly address each of these issues. It is clear that linkages to other city-wide services, where available, would allow or facilitate access to other programs. Likewise, there are particular cases like street children, which cannot be easily accommodated within an upgrading project, but national or city-wide program would need to take into consideration how to attend to these special needs. It should be kept in mind that, while upgrading projects cannot deal with all these socio-economic issues, it is likely that a community which is organized around an upgrading effort is more likely to be able to participate actively or seek help from other service agencies to address these problems.