While DC’s child poverty rate decreased, it continues to be highest for Black residents.
Roughly 9 out of 10 of the children living in poverty are Black. Regardless of the ward a family resides in, in every ward a higher percentage of Black households live in poverty than the White households living in the same ward.
Gender also plays a role in child poverty. While almost half of children (46%) raised by single women are in poverty, only 24% of children raised by single men and 5% raised by married couples are living in poverty.
Racism continues to drive the economic divide in the District. White families earn nearly four times ($208,600) as much as Black families ($54,800), and three times as much as Latinx families ($73,100). In DC concentrated income inequality and poverty only persists for Black and brown families.
Most DC Children Living in High Poverty Communities are Black
Race & Equity
Families With Children Living Below the Poverty Line
Prior to the pandemic, unemployment fell but not enough to close gaps.
The pandemic has reversed years of progress that saw DC’s unemployment rate fall from 7.8% in 2014 to 5.6% in 2019. Still huge gaps remained as DC’s Black unemployment level was over twice the District’s rates.
Youth unemployment is 14.8% which is over 2.5 times the overall DC unemployment rate. An estimated 6,000 16- to 24-year-olds in the workforce were unemployed in the year prior to the pandemic.
In September 2019, 13,125 households, including 21,751 children, received benefits through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
DC Lowered Unemployment Rates Prior to the Pandemic, but Huge Gaps Still Remained
Impacts of COVID-19
Over one-third (37%) of DC renters with children said they have no or only slight confidence in their ability to make next month’s rent or were deferring their payment, more than double that of renters without children.
On a single night in January 2020, the official count found 1,420 homeless children in DC families.
The official point in time count number doesn’t include many, including families who are “doubled up” (e.g. on a friend’s couch). In the 2018-19 school year, DC public schools reported 7,728 homeless students, more than double the 2013-14 school year.
This point in time count also doesn’t include unaccompanied youth. Youth Count in 2019 counted 1,306 unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 25, of which 9 of 10 are Black. Almost half of the youth (43%) are parents.
Wards Where DC’s Homeless Students Attend Public Schools
I personally worked with a homeless couple who had a one-year old baby. This family had been living in their car for several months before the father was involved in a car accident that left the car completely destroyed.
Find more information about all the economic justice measures in our data references section.
Unless otherwise noted, data shown is based on the most recently available data which for most measures is the 2014-2018 5-year average (previous data 2009-2013). Individuals who are Black and Latinx may be counted in both groups.
DC Action’s DC Kids Count site is a publication of DC Action and funded, in part, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The findings and conclusions presented are those of DC Action and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation. DC Kids Count provides the best available District-wide and ward-level data to measure and track the well-being of our District’s children and young adults. DC Action is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.