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There’s been some touting of a recent Annie E. Casey Foundation report that the number of children in D.C. living in concentrated poverty—neighborhoods where 30 percent of residents live below the poverty line—has decreased to 33,000. The Examiner notes: “The number is an 11 percent drop from the 37,000 children counted in 2000, while the national percentage of children living in concentrated poverty has climbed by one-quarter. A family of four living in poverty earns less than $22,314 per year, according to federal guidelines.”
The cause seems to be that more affluent households are taking up residence in poorer areas—you know, gentrification—and diluting the poverty a bit. Still, there’s no evidence that fewer kids living in concentrated poverty means fewer poor kids.
I talked to Jenny Reed, an analyst at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, who explained that examples include poor neighborhoods like Logan Circle, Columbia Heights and Shaw, which all saw rapid gentrification between 2005 and 2009.
But it’s worth noting that the Casey study may be a bit out of date, at least here in the District. Reed cautions that the study, which only goes up to 2009, included good and bad years. The data is older, she explains, because it comes from the 2010 Census. It doesn’t include the last three years, which have been almost entirely bad for the economy.
“It’s possible that we could see a reverse in the data right now,” Reed says. “We’ve seen in the last three years a big increase in poverty,” in areas like Ward 4, Ward 5, and Ward 6, even as they’ve gentrified. What does this mean? Well, the positive trends being reported now on concentrated poverty could already be history.
Photo by Mike Hicks