GOAL 1: ZERO POVERTY
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Poverty is inextricably linked to each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals— in order to ameliorate the causes and cascading effects of poverty, it is essential to incorporate indicators from across the SDG matrix into local assessments. This is to say that while, for example, family income may dictate access to healthcare services (SDG 3), the relationship is reflexive— our relationship with and access to medical services influence access to housing, qualification for assistance programs, and net income.
A particularly interesting trend that emerged in our team’s review of disaggregated data for SDG 1 and 2 is the strong relationship between poverty and food insecurity. In our initial approach, we hypothesized that food insecurity would manifest as an extension of poverty, and that as such we’d see a higher use of food assistance program utilization in counties with a higher percentage of families living below the poverty line. Over the course of our review, we found that while poverty and food insecurity are heavily correlated, there is not necessarily a clear trend of higher food aid utilization corresponding with counties with greater identified need of intervention or support. This indicates that further review regarding the misalignment between need and use of SNAP benefits in particular must be investigated with specific attention to the National Capital Area so as to ascertain whether the disjuncture is a product of lack of access (and thereby requiring policy intervention) or other socioeconomic factors.
A note on terminology: the published analysis for SDG 1, as well as the other goals, utilizes the term ‘low-income.’ In DC, low-income refers to a household income equal to or less than 80% of the area median income. Moderate-income means a total income equal to between 50% and 80% of the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area median as certified by the Department. In Virginia, low-income also refers to a household income less than or equal to 80% of the median income in an area as reported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development or 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. In Maryland, the definition of low-income varies by agency. To qualify for the Maryland Department of Human Resources’ Food Supplement Program, a household must have gross earnings below 130% of the federal poverty level, or $1,127 for a one-person household or $2,297 for a four-member household.
POVERTY AND SNAP RELATIONAL MAP: NATIONAL CAPITAL AREA
Pink, from light to dark, represents poverty from low to high while blue represents SNAP benefits. Together, we can see the relationship between the two variables, i.e. dark blue represents where both variables are high, the purple in the center of the legend represents medium levels of both, and so on. High values are defined as 15% or higher, medium as 7.5-14.9%, and low as 0-7.4%.
Special attention should be paid to the areas on the map where the percentage of the total population whose income is below the poverty level is higher than the percentage of population with Food Stamps/SNAP benefits represented by medium pink, dark pink, and dark purple. These areas, located only in Virginia within the jurisdiction, could indicate underserved populations in need of SNAP benefits facing barriers to access (more on this in 1.3.1).
Data: DC (ACS 2018 5-year estimates), Maryland (ACS 2018 5-year estimates), Virginia (ACS 2019 5-year estimates)