The Pervasive Frequency of Economic Instability in Loudoun County

It’s expensive being poor. Our neighbors across Loudoun County face systemic and cyclical barriers that prevent them from escaping poverty. Often described as “poverty taxes” or “wealth tests”, the predatory systems and practices that capitalize on desperation and stifle personal financial success are innumerable. In the most affluent county in the United States, no one should face homelessness and financial ruin because of the high cost of living.

Four out of every 100 Loudoun families, or approximately 13,593 of our neighbors, live at or below the federal poverty level. In Loudoun, the federal poverty income threshold for a family of four is $28,280. However, federal poverty lines were established in 1974, and fail to tell the full story of the impact poverty has on our communities. Neither the higher cost of living in Loudoun County, nor variances across the contiguous United States, were considered as factors in the development of these nearly-half-a-century-old guidelines.

Data generated using “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed” (ALICE) calculations, on the other hand, better reflect the magnitude of need and vulnerability among our neighbors.The ALICE Survival and Stability Budget thresholds should become Loudoun County’s standard measure of financial insecurity and stability, according to the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties. This eye-opening statistic is only one of many highlighted data points in the foundation’s Profiles of Loudoun: The Numbers behind the Faces of Loudoun report.

The Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties is a Leesburg-based nonprofit organization. To download its full report, go to CommunityFoundationLF.org/Profiles. To learn more about the foundation, go to CommunityFoundationLF.org.

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