Hometown Prosperity: Increasing Opportunity for DC’s Low-Income Working Families

DC Appleseed, DC Fiscal Policy Institute Report Urges New Effort To Boost Prospects For Working Poor Families

In the District, too many families work but remain poor.  With low paying jobs, and insufficient opportunities to raise their skill levels, these families face numerous obstacles to economic advancement. Government should play a larger role in setting policy that will help lift working poor families out of poverty, according to a new report by DC Appleseed and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute.

Hometown Prosperity: Increasing Opportunities for DC’s Low-Income Working Families, describes working poor families with children in the District and the barriers they face to economic advancement, and lays out essential policy changes that could improve their situation.

One in three working families in the District is poor,far higher than in the nation as a whole. Because two-thirds of these working poor families have no education beyond high school, it is essential that the District invest in accessible and affordable adult education and training opportunities that can launch these families into higher paying careers.  

Current budget priorities support job opportunities for youth and the chronically unemployed, but provide little for increasing skills for low-income working adults.

Further, the report concludes that DC’s economic development investments must be oriented toward creating good jobs with the training necessary for District residents to fill them, and targeted improvements should be made in programs that provide critical supports for low-income working families, such as child care. 

Improving opportunities for DC’s working poor families is just as vital to the long term success of the District of Columbia as improving the K-12 public school system. As the District confronts the current economic downturn, it should act on these recommendations to build the resilience of its low income families and prevent this downturn from becoming a major crisis. 

In 2007, DC Appleseed and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) were invited to join the Working Poor Families Project ( a national effort by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce and Charles Stewart Mott Foundations to improve the economic security of the working poor.  Building on the work of the Brookings Institution and others, DC Appleseed and DCFPI produced Hometown Prosperity.

Click here to view the full report report (64pp.)

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