Powerful injustices must be
met with equally powerful

Economic Justice.

Economic Justice Icon

Poverty

While DC’s child and youth poverty rate has improved slightly compared to before the pandemic, it continues to be highest for Black residents.
  • Approximately 21,000 District children lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty line in 2022 (roughly $23,000 for a family of three in 2022), down from 29,000 in 2012.
  • Roughly 9 out of 10 of the children living in poverty are Black, and there are major differences between the wards – with nearly 40% of ward 7 and 8 children living in poverty compared to just 2% of children in ward 3. But 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 17% of children raised by single men and 5% raised by married couples are living in poverty.
  • These numbers are based on the official federal poverty rate, which compares before-tax income to food costs. The more comprehensive supplemental measure, however, accounts for non-cash benefits (e.g. SNAP benefits) that can be used to meet basic needs, as well as subtracting taxes or adding tax credits (like the Child Tax Credit), and instead of looking just at food costs, includes food, clothing, housing, and utility costs. Nationally, the supplemental poverty rate for children fell nearly in half between 2020 and 2021 (from 9.7 to 5.2) as the expanded Child Tax Credit was introduced, then doubled between 2021 and 2022 (up to 12.4%) as the expanded Child Tax credit ended. During the same time, the official poverty measure stayed essentially flat nationally. While state-level supplemental poverty rates are not available for a single year, these national numbers show what’s possible.
Most DC Children and Youth (Under Age 18) Living in High Poverty Communities are Black

Income

DC has gaps both between wards and between different groups within each ward.
  • While median income for families with children and youth (under age 18) rose in every ward between the 2013-2017 5-year average and 2018-2022 5-year average, in ward 3 the 2022 (5-year average) median income for families with children was over $250,000 whereas in Ward 8 it was only $45,100.
  • Racism continues to drive the economic divide in the District. White families earn nearly four times (once the average gets over $250,000 a precise estimate is no longer reported) as much as Black families ($69,340), and well over twice as much as Latinx families ($114,154). In DC concentrated income inequality and poverty only persists for Black and brown families.
  • Because of historic and ongoing segregation within DC one might think that the geographic income disparity explains the racial disparity, but within every ward the median income for white families is higher than the median income for Black families.
DC Median Family Income
Median family income ($)
Once income reaches $250,000, the Census no longer reports a specific number, just "250,000+". Median income for white District families have reached that point.
Demographics Icon

Race & Equity

Children and Youth (Under age 18) Living Below the Poverty Line
33%
Black
21,579
2%
White
412
15%
Latinx
3247

Population by Age

Unemployment rates have improved, but huge gaps remain.
  • The pandemic, which sent the unemployment rate to 7.2% in fiscal year 2020, reversed years of progress that saw DC’s unemployment rate fall from 7.8% in fiscal year 2014 to 5.7% in fiscal 2019. Still huge gaps remain as in 2022 DC’s Black unemployment level was twice the District-wide rate.
  • Youth unemployment in 2022 was 9.5%, which is an improvement over the 2020 rate of 17.3% but still twice the overall DC unemployment rate. An estimated 3,000 16- to 24-year-olds in the workforce were unemployed in 2022, with higher unemployment rates for Black than white youth.
DC Lowered Unemployment Rates Prior to the Pandemic, but Huge Gaps Still Remained and were Exacerbated by the Pandemic
Demographics Icon

Race & Equity

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
89%
Black
2%
White
9%
Latinx

Housing Insecurity

The threat of housing insecurity persists.
  • 32% of DC children live in households that spent more than 30% of their monthly income on housing in 2022.
  • On a single night in January 2023, the official count found 704 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 2022-23 school year, DC public schools reported 8,300 homeless students, more than double the 2013-14 school year.
  • One group who’s often couch surfing or “doubled up” is youth (under the ages of 25) who are homeless or unstably housed without a parent or guardian. In fiscal year 2022, the District’s Department of Human Services homelessness system served 1,934 youth experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. In the 2022 Youth Count survey of homeless youth, 4 out of 5 of the youth were Black and one out of five were parents.

Risk Factors for Youth Homelessness

In addition to dealing with the effects of racism, many of the youth who wind up homeless have been failed by our systems in the most profound ways. Based on Youth Count in 2022:

  • 32% of non-parenting homeless DC youth are LGBTQ+. 7% of non-parenting homeless DC youth identify as non-cisgender, including those identifying as transgender and other gender expressions
  • Roughly 1 out of 4 of unaccompanied homeless youth reported that at some point in their life they had experience with the justice system (24%)
  • 2 in 5 youth who are homeless without a parent or guardian did not graduate from high school
  • Roughly 1 out of 4 unaccompanied homeless youth reported that at some point in their life they had experience with the child welfare system (23%)
  • 38% of youth who are homeless without a parent or guardian have experienced domestic violence, and more than half (61%) of those report that they started having housing issues because of that violence
  • In 2019 roughly 1 out of 12 youth who were homeless without a parent or guardian reported being sex trafficked (7% of non-parenting youth and 9% of parenting youth)
Many homeless youth have experienced domestic violence or systems involved

Find more information about all the demographic measures in our data references section and visit our appendix to download a table with the full DC KIDS COUNT 2024 data set.