As the DMV region grows, many residents are struggling to keep up

As the DMV region grows, many residents are struggling to keep up

Story Highlights

  • Affordable housing receives the lowest marks among DMV resources
  • Concerns about paying the rent and mortgage are rising to concerns at majority level
  • Nearly one in five DMV residents struggle to afford food and medicine

WASHINGTON, DC – The Greater Washington region, which includes the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia, is growing faster than other major metropolitan areas in the Northeast, such as New York and Boston, according to a Brookings analysis based on U.S. data. Census data. Residents of the DMV, the commonly used acronym for the region, are aware that the area is in transition, but they are not necessarily optimistic about what the changes will bring and who will benefit.

In partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation, Gallup surveyed area residents on key economic stability measures, as well as other issues facing the DMV. The findings are included in the upcoming VoicesDMV Community Insights report, which highlights that as the region continues to transform, many DMV residents lack access to basic needs and are concerned about their ability to afford them.

In many areas, large disparities exist across jurisdictions and racial demographic groups in the region. However, the issue of housing is a challenge experienced across the region, with the availability of affordable housing receiving poor marks in all jurisdictions, and concerns over rent and mortgage payments have risen to levels impacting most DMV residents.

With affordable housing in short supply, concerns about the ability to pay are increasing

DMV residents give by far the lowest ratings to the availability of affordable housing across a range of local resources and facilities they were surveyed about – and these low ratings are consistent across all jurisdictions.

All other items on the list receive positive ratings from the majority of residents, including the second-lowest rated item, overall quality of public schools (59%), which is rated “excellent” or “outstanding” by most DMV residents. good”.


In addition, concerns in the region about being able to pay rent or mortgage have increased significantly between 2020 and 2023. Just before the pandemic (the previous survey’s field period closed in mid-January 2020), less than a third of residents (31%) said they were “very” or “somewhat concerned” about not being able to pay their rent or mortgage . Today, a majority (52%) express this concern, which is consistent across all jurisdictions in the region.


Nearly one in five DMV residents struggle to afford food and medicine

In addition to worrying about not being able to pay for basic needs such as housing, many RDW residents are not skilled pay.

Nearly one in five DMV residents say there have been times in the past year when they did not have enough money to buy health care or medicine (18%) or food for themselves or their family (18%), while about one in the five 10 say they were unable to provide adequate shelter (11%).

Within the DMV, reports of people struggling to afford food are highest in DC (30%) and neighboring Prince George’s County, Maryland (27%), where more than one in four residents report they have recently had no money for food for years. . One in four Prince George’s County residents also report having had experiences where they could not afford health care or medications (25%), the highest rate in the region.


Black and Hispanic residents are more likely than other racial subgroups to report struggling to afford basic needs — including more than a third who say they don’t have enough money to buy food and more than a quarter who don’t have enough money for health care or healthcare. medicine.


Intergenerational wealth elusive for many DMV residents

Most DMV residents (58%) say they are “better off” than their parents were when their parents were their age – up slightly from 52% in 2020. A slight majority (54%) also believe they will be able to pass on an inheritance to their children, such as money, land, a house or other valuable assets. But these expectations are not shared equally across the region.

Solid majorities in Loudoun County (70%), Arlington County and Alexandria (66%), and Fairfax County (62%) believe they will be able to transfer some of their wealth to the next generation. Meanwhile, fewer than half of residents in Montgomery (49%) and Prince George’s counties (38%) believe they can pass on such assets.

Analyzing this measure across racial groups, about three in four white residents (74%) expect to pass on an inheritance, while a slight majority of Asian residents (53%) say the same. But fewer than half of Hispanic residents (45%) believe they can pass on a legacy, and Black residents (38%) are the least likely racial group to say they will be able to do so.

In short

Economic instability has been a consistent theme in Gallup and The Greater Washington Community Foundation’s pre- and post-pandemic research, revealing inequities that could persist or even widen if not addressed addressed as the DMV region continues to change. While many residents struggle to meet even their most basic needs, including food and housing, their challenges are compounded by additional barriers to employment – ​​such as access to childcare – or barriers to financial goals, such as credit scores or financial history.

These findings demonstrate a need for programs and services that help residents catch up and stay financially current, move up the economic ladder, and ultimately build wealth.

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