Affordable Housing and Children: a Disproportionate Impact

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34% of AHDC’s population is under 20 years, compared to just 19% in the City of Alexandria as a whole. Further, AHDC’s population of 5-19 year olds – the school age population – is almost triple the rate of the city at large.  AHDC has as many residents under 20 as it does over 40. When we build, plan, and support our residents, we do so knowing full well AHDC’s work has a disproportionate impact on Alexandrian children.

Safe and affordable housing is of critical importance to those in this age group, and the people who are raising them. Stable and safe housing for children has long been recognized as one of the determining factors in their long-term well-being. In 2015-2016, homeless students in Florida missed around 15 days of school a year, compared to 11 for housed students on free/reduced lunches, and 8 for housed students with full price lunches. Low-quality homes contributed to 50% higher chances of an emergency room visit for asthma. Teenagers who live in affordable housing have higher young adult incomes and lower rates of incarceration.

But when the costs of rent and childcare combine, low income families struggle with an array of tough choices. In 2014, the cost of raising a child over 18 years for a middle-income family in the D.C. area was $342,552 – or roughly $19,000/year. (For comparison, 2-BR fair market rent in D.C. is $1,793/month, or $21,516/year.) For lower income families struggling already with rent, childcare costs can create an impossible burden. With a dwindling supply of naturally affordable or subsidized affordable housing in Alexandria, these families may be forced to choose crowded and substandard housing, which while keeping a roof over their heads, can result in long term health and educational consequences. 

AHDC works to combat this problem primarily through the provision and management of affordable homes in the city of Alexandria. Since the year 2000, the supply of naturally occurring affordable housing has decreased by 90%. Rental costs have gone up by 94%, while incomes have only increased by 33%. Against this tide AHDC works to provide housing that is high-quality and ecologically friendly, in addition to preserving existing affordable units threatened by market forces. When families can move into our units, they find stability and rent they can manage, and their children get to remain in place as they grow.

It’s not enough to just support children housing though – AHDC through its work is creating communities of people. To this end, AHDC hosts events for children centered around our community gardens, holiday events, and more. As well, AHDC is implementing a health and wellness program that will provide families of all ages access to fitness centers that provide youth opportunities and childcare.

It’s a privilege to serve Alexandria’s children and families – and one we take seriously. By supporting these kids now, we are making an investment in the future of our city and our region.

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