Pockets of poverty amidst wealthy neighborhoods calls for concern in Nova

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“There are many areas in our region where one out of three children is living in poverty,” said Steve Woolf, Director, Center on Society and Health.

Northern Virginia prides itself on having some of the nation’s wealthiest counties, but a new study shows that nestled among the rich are pockets of poverty and a serious effect on minority residents.

“There are 15 what we call ‘islands of disadvantage’ in Northern Virginia. [In] areas of this affluent region, people are living under very difficult conditions, high poverty rates and very difficult living circumstances,” said Woolf. 

The new report examined data in more than four counties, and in these areas, Hispanic and African Americans are much larger proportions of the population in these neighborhoods.

Woolf said these living circumstances have a direct impact on residents’ health.

“What we found is that life expectancy in this area varies by 18 years, depending on where a baby is born. The reason for that is that the conditions that shape our health are the conditions in which we live,” said Woolf.

Woolf added that what the study really proves is a direct correlation between poverty and health, covered by a suburban backdrop that he said is masking the problem.

“Right across the street, there are golf resorts and beautiful McMansions. In what appears to be nice living conditions, we have people who are really struggling to get by paycheck-to-paycheck,” said Woolf.

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