Despite DC named 4th-best place to live in US, huge quality of life gap remains in city, data shows

U.S. News and World Report released its list of the 100 Best Places to Live for 2017 and Washington D.C. came in at No. 4 in the rankings. Job market, value, quality of life, desirability, net migration, cost of living, education and health care are just some of the factors that went into these rankings.

Despite rising four spots from last year's rankings, D.C. is a great city to be in depending on who you are and where you live, according to D.C. Councilmember Robert White (D-At-Large).

"D.C. is a great place if you have an advanced degree, if you are young and you are single," he said. "But if you don't have an advanced degree, you are having a lot of trouble in the job market."

Focusing on the District of Columbia only, data shows there is a huge gap in quality of life depending on which ward of the city you live in.

A chart from the KIDS COUNT Data Center using data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows in 2015 that the median income for a family with kids in Ward 1 was $61,196 a year. In Ward 2, it was $189,324 while Ward 3 had $216,193.

Meanwhile in areas east of the Anacostia River, it was just $31,273 in Ward 7 and $24,096 a year in Ward 8.

"If you live in Ward 8, you are seeing poverty rates around here at 40 percent whereas in Ward 3, it is less than 10 percent," said Councilmember White. "So the progress you are seeing in the city doesn't spread throughout."

A report by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute published in December called "A Broken Foundation: Affordable Housing Crisis Threatens DC's Lowest-Income Residents" stated that 26,000 extremely low income D.C. households spend more than half of their income on rent. This number also includes one-fifth of all children in the District.

"We see families together - maybe 12 people in three different families sharing a two-bedroom apartment," said Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children's Law Center, a non-profit that provides free legal service to children, families and foster caregivers in D.C.

And those people are also forced with making impossible choices about things like health care.

"Parents have a hard time getting their kids to the doctor," said Sandalow. "They can't afford the Metro for example. They can't afford the bus. And lots of medication is over the counter that we take for granted. If your child has a fever and you want to give her Tylenol, you have to pay for that yourself."

Councilmember White said the problem isn't a lack of jobs in D.C., but lack of education.

"We have tens of thousands of people unemployed in the District," he said. "The good news is that we actually have more job openings than we have unemployed, so if we do a better job at educating people and connecting them to jobs, we can bridge these divides."