New study shows kids in District of Columbia are the most underprivileged in the country, facing daily threats of homelessness and food insecurity
A common refrain in Americas capital city goes something like this: theres Washington, and then theres DC. Washington is where Congress passes bills, tourists visit the White House and Donald Trump stars in a daily political soap opera.
But DC the District of Columbia, in which the city sits is where more than 700,000 people live. People go to work, families share meals and children go to school. And many of those children, living just a few miles from the US Capitol, are facing the daily threat of homelessness and food insecurity.
According to a new WalletHub study, children in the district are the most underprivileged in the country. The study which looked at a number of factors, ranging from the share of children in foster care to high school graduation rates found that DC children face worse conditions than children in states like West Virginia (third worst), Louisiana (fifth worst) and Oklahoma (seventh worst).
Judith Sandalow, the executive director of the Childrens Law Center, said the results emphasized the huge disparity between the perception of Washington as the seat of the most powerful government in the world and the often harrowing reality for many children in the city.
Two miles from the White House, there are children going to bed hungry and not knowing where theyre going to sleep tomorrow night, Sandalow said.
The city has the highest shares of children in single-parent families, children living in low-income households where no adults work and children whose parents lack secure employment, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said.
She added that DCs high rates of child food insecurity, infant mortality and childhood depression also affected its ranking.
Even in one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, there is significant need, said Radha Muthiah, head of the Capital Area Food Bank.
Muthiahs organization serves roughly 400,000 individuals in the DC region, about a third of whom are children, and she said her group has witnessed the effects of growing inequity in the city. According to the DC Policy Center, the top 20% of earners in the city take home about 29 times more income than the bottom 20%.
Experts pointed to the lack of affordable housing as a major driver of this inequity. The office of the DC Chief Financial Officer released data in June showing that the median price for a detached single-family home grew 10.9% in the previous year, reaching a dizzying $809,500. The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors has also reported that the citys median home prices set new records this year.
Michael L Ferrell, the executive director of the DC Coalition for the Homeless, said the citys home prices have escalated to the point that many DC families considered to be working poor can no longer afford housing.
The number one reason is the lack of affordable housing. Thats not just in the district but around the country, Ferrell said.
While noting that DCs homelessness rate has decreased in recent years, Ferrell said theres been a simultaneous decline in the number of affordable housing units.