EDITORIAL: Families East of the River Deserve More Than Lip Service

Muriel Bowser
Mayor Muriel Bowser delivers the State of the District Address at the University of the District of Columbia in Northwest. (Lateef Mangum)

Here we go again. In a report just released by an area advocacy group, we hear that the overall median income for District families has consistently risen since 2010. But for those families in Wards 7 and 8, the two wards that are east of the Anacostia River, life hasn’t been so rosy.

And those who suffer the most are children. So, while the District continues to add more dollars to its budget, enjoys a healthy and growing reserve of funds, and with housing prices going out of the roof, poverty has a firm grasp on many who live East of the River.

Further, it seems that as families find themselves unable to keep up with the increasing cost of living in more affluent parts of the District, they are moving to Ward 8, the city’s poorest ward — an area that has few banks, fewer grocery stores and the highest unemployment rate in D.C.

It’s pretty tough to get ahead when, as the report shows, more than 40 percent of District residents spend over a third of their monthly income on rent and other related costs.

And so, another report tells us something that we’ve known for many years — the District is for all practical purposes, two cities, divided by socioeconomics and race. We are a city of the haves and the have-nots. Tragically, many of the have-nots are black, representing generations of Washingtonians who have gotten very little from their leaders except a basketful of broken promises.

It’s doubtful that these families care about getting on the road to the middle class — something that has been one of the mayor’s goals for the District’s residents. They just want to secure ways that will help them break the chain of poverty.

We have the resources and the minds to improve the health, lives and future of those who have been left behind in the District’s financial growth. Let’s get things started with a real sense of urgency.
We’re looking for action — not another report.

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