To combat our region’s growing economic divide, we are working with our partners to help our most economically vulnerable neighbors face complex, interrelated housing, employment, and education challenges. For low-income people of color, the barriers to getting jobs, finding and remaining in affordable housing, and becoming financially stable are even greater.
These issues are interrelated and cannot be solved through a siloed approach. Instead, we work to examine the context of each problem.
Goal | The region provides an adequate supply of housing that low-income individuals and families can afford, and individuals and families remain stably housed.
The Challenge | Housing security is a major issue for the region’s most economically vulnerable residents.
- Nearly 315,000 households — or roughly half of all renter households in the region — are renting at unaffordable rates, with 150,000 facing severe cost burdens (paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing).
- There is a 56,000 unit gap between supply and demand for affordable units for very low-income owner households.
- From 2000-2011, housing costs in the region increased by a staggering 32 percent after inflation.
Goal | Ensure that individuals and families in the bottom quartile of income build assets and increase financial security.
The Challenge | As Washington's income gap widens, those at the bottom are more vulnerable than ever.
- Among the 100 largest metropolitan areas, Washington has the highest required living wage for a family of four — nearly $70,000 per year.
- In the District of Columbia, the income gap between the top 5 percent of earners and the bottom 20 percent is nearly twice as high as the national average.
- Since 1980, the median income for people of color in the Washington region has grown at a much slower rate than it has for whites.
Education and Employment
Goal | Prepare youth and adults to obtain family-sustaining jobs and remain employed.
The Challenge | Without a post-secondary credential or college degree, many in our region cannot become financially stable.
- Between 2007 and 2012, the wage advantage for college educated workers declined nationally, but in our region, it grew at a faster pace than any other state.
- Capital-area workers with only a high school degree have seen a larger drop in real median wages — 80 cents an hour — than those nationally.
- Workers with less than a bachelor’s degree continue to experience unemployment — and especially long-term unemployment — at far higher levels than in 2007.