August 29, 2023

In 2021, one in five families (20 percent) in Northern Virginia did not earn enough money to meet their basic needs for shelter, food, medical care, and other essentials. An additional nine percent could not cover these basic needs, and pay for childcare. All told, 29 percent of the region’s families were struggling with income inadequacy.

To cope with rising costs, families at all income levels are changing their habits. The majority of families are cutting back on discretionary spending. Nearly half of families at all income levels have compromised their financial health, including taking on more debt, and getting behind on bills. More than a quarter were sacrificing a basic need, such as delaying medical care, keeping their homes at an unsafe temperature, or going hungry.

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia published this report, which includes perspectives from real Northern Virginians collated by InsideNOVA, and Northern Virginia Family Services.

Elizabeth Hughes, the Community Foundation’s Director of Insight Region® said, “This report offers unique insights into how Northern Virginians ’get by’ when their income is not enough to cover the basic cost of housing, food, transportation, and medical care. Weaving together multiple data sources and firsthand accounts, we examine how families across incomes levels cope with income inadequacy and recent inflation by making sacrifices—from small things like reducing streaming services and meals out to the big things like debt, food insecurity, and delayed medical care. This is a report that I hope resonates with everyone in our region.”


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