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April 7, 2015 / Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Housing a growing population

With the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments projecting that there will be nearly 900,000 residents in the District by 2040, Washingtonian takes an in-depth look at how the city must work to modernize outdated building processes to avoid running out of space – affordable space – in an ever-evolving area. (Washingtonian, 4/6)

Think DC – with its population of 659,000 – is crowded now? Imagine the city crammed with nearly 900,000 people. That’s the number of residents the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments projects by the year 2040. It’s a staggering proposition, one that would shatter the historic high of 802,000, set in 1950.

Look around at all the cranes and new apartment complexes and you could be tricked into believing we won’t have a problem housing all these new neighbors. The reality: We’re set to run out of space in less than 30 years. And if we do, the consequences to the region could be dire.

FOOD | Opinion:  Advisory food policy councils are proliferating around greater Washington, and D.C. will soon have one, too. But are they enough? In this opinion piece, a SUNY Buffalo Professor argues that local governments also need Departments of Food to improve food access, connect farmers to consumers, and more. (Quartz, 4/5)

PHILANTHROPY/INEQUALITY | Opinion: Has philanthropy been misguided in the fight against inequality and poverty all along? Author Peter Dreier examines the way inequality has been addressed over the years, and what must be done to fix it. (NPQ, 3/19)

Indeed, since the 1980s, most discussions within the philanthropic world of the “urban crisis” or of what to do about “ghetto poverty” miss the larger picture of economic inequality and the concentration of income, wealth, and political power. When most philanthropists and policy experts look at low-income neighborhoods, they miss the broader picture – that these places are part of a system of economic segregation resulting from government policies that embrace free-market ideas.

Social scientists tend to study the “underclass,” but they pay much less attention to the “overclass.” The two are connected.


The most effective way to address poverty and urban decline is to address their root causes, which involve the vast and growing inequalities of income, wealth, and political power. Focusing narrowly on revitalizing poverty-stricken neighborhoods, and relying on “market” forces to solve these problems, is shortsighted and misguided. Social-justice philanthropy has a long and valuable tradition in the United States, but it is still a marginal part of the foundation world. If philanthropists want to help create a more humane, fair, and democratic society, they should support the many organizations and activists who are building a movement for shared prosperity.

EVENTS | On April 13, a briefing on the proposed 2016 budget for the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS) will be held at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Attendees can learn about budgeting for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, homeless services, and other DHS programs from Director Laura Zeilinger and other senior staff.

TRANSIT/REGION | Reform WMATA? Slash and burn? Or stay the course? (GGW, 4/7)

WORKFORCE | How the Recession Changed Long-term Unemployment (Atlantic, 4/5)

Shaquille O’neal…or Aristotle? Quotes are often attributed to the wrong person. This time, however, it ended up on a stamp.

– Ciara

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