Reducing Inequality, Increasing Opportunities for DC Residents: Recommendations to the New Mayor and DC Council

This report offers recommendations for reducing income inequality and for giving all residents of the District of Columbia the opportunity for a secure economic future. As Mayor Bowser and the new DC Council start their work in 2015, the District is in good shape in many ways. But it also faces greater challenges than ever. Prosperity and a growing population have pushed housing prices beyond affordable levels in every corner of the city. The rapidly rising cost of living makes it even more important for residents to have good-paying jobs, yet wages are falling and unemployment remains high for residents without a college degree.

The District has always been a city of haves and have-nots, but the gaps are stretching close to a breaking point. While the top five percent of DC households have incomes over $500,000, higher than the top earners in any major city, the poorest fifth of households live on average income under $10,000. This in part reflects a growing gap between the wages of lower-paid and higher-paid workers — now at the widest gap in 35 years — and public assistance benefits that are low and have not kept up with the rising costs of living.

The negative impacts of poverty and income inequality in the District are clear. The District lost half of its low-cost housing in a decade, and the typical low-income family spends two-thirds of its income for rent and utilities. Homelessness has increased to crisis levels. Progress in improving education outcomes is confounded by a high rate of child poverty, with thousands of children coming to school with stress, malnutrition, and other barriers to succeeding academically.

In order to provide all DC residents the opportunity for a secure economic future, the following reports make recommendations in these areas:

To read the entire report, click here.

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