The Washington Post: Outdated Poverty Data Funneled Millions To Wealthy DC Neighborhoods, Post Analysis Shows

The Washington Post, Nov. 19, 2019: Outdated Poverty Data Funneled Millions To Wealthy DC Neighborhoods, Post Analysis Shows

A federal program that funneled millions of dollars into the District’s richest neighborhoods at the expense of poorer areas used unadjusted and outdated data for years that failed to capture the city’s rapid economic growth.

The Washington Post reported in April that hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts were awarded to District businesses enrolled in the Historically Underutilized Business Zones program from 2000 to 2018. Almost 70% of the money went to a dozen businesses, mostly in areas such as Dupont Circle, Navy Yard and downtown Washington.

What had been unclear was how neighborhoods with higher levels of wealth and private investment fell into the program, while more economically distressed communities received only a sliver of the benefits.

A new Washington Post analysis found that the HUBZone program’s use of outdated and unadjusted data allowed businesses in wealthy areas to qualify for more than $540 million in federal contracts meant for firms in underserved neighborhoods. Rather than improve inequalities, critics say, the program has exacerbated disparities, and they question whether its calculations fit the program’s mission.

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