News from Insight Region™

Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Director

January 13, 2021

by Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Director of Insight RegionTM

Northern Virginia is one of the country’s most expensive places to live, but also one of its most affordable.

Now, I know how that sounds. But look at the data—in 2019, Loudoun County had the fourth highest median housing cost among all counties and independent cities in the country, followed by Fairfax (#8), Arlington (#10), Prince William (#24), and Alexandria (#26). The same year, 72% of households had housing costs that were considered “affordable” by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and just 11% were considered severely burdened by housing costs, a rate well below the national average (14%) and other tech hubs.

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January 13, 2021


A new report by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia finds that 67% of Northern Virginians with low incomes (less than $50,000 per year for a family of four) are “severely burdened” by the cost of housing, spending over half of their income on rent, mortgage, taxes, fees, and basic utilities. Individuals and families with moderate incomes ($50,000 to $100,000 for a family of four) fare slightly better, but still over half (59 percent) cannot afford their homes and 19% spend over half of their income on housing.

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January 13, 2021

One RegionLow-Income Northern Virginians face the country's most severe housing cost burden

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia's Insight RegionTM presents the first brief report in a new series on inclusive prosperity in Northern Virginia.  It finds that 67% of Northern Virginians with low incomes (less than $50,000 per year for a family of four) are “severely burdened” by the cost of housing, spending over half of their income on rent, mortgage, taxes, fees, and basic utilities. Individuals and families with moderate incomes ($50,000 to $100,000 for a family of four) fare slightly better, but still over half (59 percent) cannot afford their homes and 19% spend over half of their income on housing. When compared to other large metropolitan areas, Northern Virginia has the highest rate of severe housing burden among low-income households and the sixth highest rate among moderate-income households in the country.

The report is an analysis of data from U.S. Census data and the American Community Survey.

Other key findings outlined include:
  • Severe housing burden is not spread evenly throughout the region: In Leesburg-Western Loudoun County, 58% of low-income households spent over half of their income on housing, the lowest rate of severe housing burden observed throughout the region (2015-19, five-year average). The highest rates in excess of 75% were observed in North Arlington, Lorton-SE Centreville, and McLean-Idylwood.
  • Racial and ethnic minorities and immigrant communities experience severe housing burden at higher rates nationally and in Northern Virginia. Over half (57%) of severely housing burdened households were non-white, and 47% were born in a different country.
  • Occupations that experienced severe housing burden at the highest rates are predominantly in roles deemed “essential” during Covid-19, including teachers, construction workers, retail salespersons, drivers, and restaurant staff.
  • Seniors account for 23 percent of severely housing burdened households in Northern Virginia.
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October 8, 2020

In 2020, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia launched Insight RegionTM, a center for community research. It is a growing hub for reliable, well-researched, and actionable data and analyses on issues critical to Northern Virginia. Through this work, we seek to inform charitable giving, inspire civic and social action, and foster a more inclusive, prosperous region.

In 2021, Insight Region will focus on understanding and promoting Inclusive Prosperity – increasing self-sufficiency, expanding economic opportunity, and forging pathways for long-term movements out of poverty for all of Northern Virginia’s residents.

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September 10, 2020
EH headshot1 300x350Today, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia welcomes Elizabeth Hughes as the new Senior Director of Insight Region, a research center at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia launched earlier this year that analyzes local trends, convenes civic leaders, and promotes civic and social action.

Elizabeth has spent her career at the intersection of research and policy, helping decision-makers sort through the noise and find relevant, actionable insights to help guide operations, maximize productivity, and achieve strategic goals.
“Through the collection and curation of relevant, reliable, and actionable data, Insight Region will allow the community to explore the unique strengths and needs that define this region and to understand how investments in programs and services can make Northern Virginia more resilient, healthy, and equitable,” said Hughes.

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