The Washington, D.C., metro area saw a boom in development over the last decade, but that prosperity never made it across the river to the overwhelmingly black communities, and a large number of blacks are still living in poverty.
A new study released by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI), a liberal-leaning non-profit group, shows that 26 percent of black people in the city lived below the poverty line in 2014. Only 7 percent of non-Hispanic whites lived at that level.
When you look at the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, an area that is made up of more than 90 percent black people, the poverty rate jumps to 33 percent.
“This year’s picture of the geographic distribution of poverty is largely consistent with last year’s and with pre-recession times,” the study reads.
Since 2007, black people are the only ethnic group in the city to experience an increase in poverty, up 3 percent.
Between 2007 and 2014, the median income for black families stayed stagnant at around $41,000. Meanwhile, the median income for every household in D.C. rose by almost $10,000 to more than $71,000.
It appears, from the data, that education plays a large part in the gap between black and other groups in wealth distribution. Nearly one in seven black people in the city do not have a high school diploma, compared with one in every 30 whites.
The FPI suggests increasing money spent on affordable housing and expanding job training programs as ways to help bring down the city’s poverty rate.
In her first year in office, Mayor Muriel Bowser did just that, with nearly $150 million in additional spending on homeless initiatives, and a last-minute bill to provide another jobs program for adults with few marketable skills.
Executive director of Economic Growth DC Dave Oberting said the gap is created, in large part, because of the failed strategies of local government.
“The poverty rate in the District has risen from 15% to 18.9% just since 1989. The unemployment rate for African-Americans in the District rose from 18.7% in 2012 to 20% in 2013,” Oberting told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Inequality has risen steadily in the District since the 1950’s. It’s not one particular anti-poverty policy that’s failed, but when you add them all together, it seems they’ve made things worse.”
Economic Growth DC is a non-profit group dedicated to improving the growth rate of the District’s economy.
In 2014, there were 88,773 adults over the age of 16 who lived in poverty in the district. Less than 2 percent of them worked full-time at some point during the year, and 64 percent of them did not work at all.
Oberting said the poverty rate can be tied directly to the fact that there aren’t enough jobs for people east of the river.
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