Key Findings: Looming COVID Housing Crisis Threatens Health and Safety of DC Families

December 14, 2020
Blog Post

Nearly 1 in 5 families with children living in the District of Columbia are worried about paying their rent or making their next mortgage payment, according to Kids, Families and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond. A new, 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzes how families are faring during the COVID-19 crisis.

This Kids Count report examined data from weekly surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that demonstrate how families across the country are struggling to meet basic needs during the global public health crisis while managing school, work, and mental health. The Foundation finds that concurrent health and economic problems are exacerbating trends that show that vulnerable families cannot fulfill basic needs. DC families’ concerns about housing security mirror families’ worries in 25 states.

“This pandemic has stressed and stretched families all across the District. Many are struggling to make ends meet. They are showing up at food pantries where they once donated and volunteered, and they are consulting with lawyers at free legal clinics seeking advice on how to stay in their homes. Some of our partners report that free mental health counseling requests are exceeding capacity,” said Kimberly Perry, executive director of DC Action, DC member of the Kids Count network.

The report shows how urgent state and federal intervention is to families’ health and well-being with children. Almost a quarter of adults in DC living with children report struggling with their mental health as the pandemic lingers, and more than 10% are concerned about health care and having enough to eat.

Four Pain Points for Children and Families

By measuring food security, the ability to make rent or mortgage payments, health insurance status, and mental health concerns, the Casey Foundation identified four pain points for children and families that require immediate action. Percentages of DC families with children who have experienced challenges as measured by these four indicators are listed below:

  • Food Security: 13% percent said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week. In the same time period, 21% of Black adults in households with children said the same (see the Kids Count data portal to see how these numbers have shifted over the summer and fall).
  • Housing Stability: 19% percent had slight or no confidence they would make the next rent or mortgage payment on time. In the same time period, 27% of Black adults in households with children said the same (see the Kids Count data center to see how these numbers have shifted over the summer and fall).
  • Affordable Health Care: 12% did not have health insurance.
  • Mental Health: 23% felt down, depressed, or hopeless for more than half of the days in the past week. In the same time period, 29% of Black adults in households with children said the same (see the Kids Count data portal to see how these numbers have shifted over the summer and fall).