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New report says regional economic growth has done little to help Arlandria

The City of Alexandria divided by indicators of economic disadvantage, with areas with more indicators highlighted in darker blue (image via Northern Virginia Health Foundation)

While poverty rates have declined by 52% in Northern Virginia over the last decade, a new report found that benefit has not been spread evenly across the region’s population.

Lost Opportunities, a report by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University, said there are “islands of disadvantage” around the region, and even areas that have benefitted from economic growth have, in many cases, been fueled by gentrification and displacement.

An initial report was commissioned in 2017 that studied these islands of disadvantage, but a new report from this year tracks changes over time.

The report highlights Arlandria, in particular, as one of the islands of disadvantage around Northern Virginia. The report says Arlandria, which is 69% Hispanic and 49% born outside of the United States, has a high number of indicators of socioeconomic disadvantage.

According to the report:

Census tract 2012.06 in the Arlandria area of Alexandria ranked among the bottom 10% on ten out of eleven indicators, with a poverty rate of 41%. More than half (54%) of adults lacked a high school diploma, only 29% had a Bachelor’s degree, and 24% lacked proficiency in English. Almost one third (31%) of the Arlandria population was uninsured. People of color and immigrants were disproportionately exposed to adverse living conditions. In that Arlandria tract, 69% of the population was Hispanic and 49% was foreign-born.

The report indicated that many of the areas struggling from 2009-2013 in the original report have experienced further economic setbacks.

While there has been some improvement east of Mount Vernon Avenue, much of Arlandria remains impoverished in the new report.

Even as the report says residents of Arlandria face disproportionately high economic disadvantage, they also see sometimes drastic rent increases in their homes.

Map of economic disadvantage in Alexandria (image via Northern Virginia Health Foundation)

The report also notes that sections of Old Town Alexandria and portions of Annandale just west of Alexandria have seen displacement of Black and Asian populations, replaced predominately with white residents.

According to the report:

For example, in the Courthouse area of Arlington County, median household income increased from $87,233 to $132,603 and the poverty rate plummeted from 19% to 5%. However, the share of the population that was White grew from 48% to 68%, while that of the Black and Asian populations declined by 42% and 72%, respectively. Similar displacement appears to have occurred in Old Town Alexandria, areas of Annandale, and in the historically Black neighborhood of Green Valley/Nauck.

The full report is available online.

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