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 Region® 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.