Skip to main content

Reducing Poverty in Washington, D.C. and Rebuilding the Middle Class from Within


Read the Executive Summary

Washington D.C. has experienced job growth, increases in city revenues, and a development boom over the past several years, but too many residents are excluded from local and regional prosperity. Ensuring the District’s future as a vibrant, inclusive city depends on a commitment to increase the middle class from within. This paper from Brookings Greater Washington makes a set of focused recommendations for a workforce development strategy that will increase the skills, earnings, and employment of at least 10,500 low-income, low-skilled residents over the next seven years.

Workforce development, however, should be seen as part of a broader strategy to move the working poor into the middle class. Even with enhanced education and job placement services, many residents will continue to work in low-wage jobs. Polices and programs that support employment and create financial incentives to work can help residents in low-wage jobs make ends meet.

Additionally, an unstable housing situation can make it difficult to find and keep a job or participate in workforce programs. This paper proposes increasing assistance to alleviate the severe housing shortage experienced by the lowest-wage workers. To help working households stay in the city as their incomes increase, this paper also recommends developing workforce rental housing for middle-income families.

By helping more residents enter and advance in the workforce, the city can begin to steady its fiscal base while blurring economic, racial, and geographic divides.

Get daily updates from Brookings