Jeb Bush has been on the campaign for four official days and already hates Washington. And no, not the idea of Washington politics — which he is hoping to preside over — but the actual, capital D, District.
At a campaign stop on Wednesday in Iowa, the Republican presidential contender made a comparison between Washington, Iowa, and Washington D.C.
“Sadly, Washington, D.C., is … I don’t know if you know this — Washington, D.C., has the highest per capita income in the United States,” Bush said. “Washington, D.C., has average home values of $800,000. Washington, D.C., doesn’t have unemployment.”
A D.C. with no unemployment? Wouldn’t that be great! Unfortunately, as my colleagues over at the Fact Checker blog pointed out, that’s not true. Much to the frustration of more than seven in every 100 District residents, the city has an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.
Like many politicians before him who follow the D.C.-bashing trope — and are attracted to the gilded condos of Foggy Bottom or the cheaper politico-filled group houses of Capitol Hill — Jeb Bush maybe hasn’t spent much time exploring D.C. beyond family visits to the White House.
Here are some helpful facts about D.C. that Bush and other presidential contenders might want to know as they try to make new friends here and hopefully address the needs of the people in the city they want to call home. After all, if Bush does get to live on Pennsylvania Avenue, the most convenient photo-ops will be at struggling schools, food banks and community centers right here in the District.
- This winter, there were more than 4,000 District residents living in homeless shelters.
- The demand for affordable housing is at a high, although the supply of affordable housing has been reduced by more than 50 percent since 2000.
- Crime rates in D.C. have dramatically improved over the last two decades. But it’s still not just White House fence jumpers here. Over a six-day period in May, six people were slain.
- In March 2015, more than 140,000 District residents received food stamps — that’s more than 20 percent of the population.
- There’s more than just the Potomac River in D.C. There’s also the Anacostia River. East of the Anacostia lie distinct, vibrant neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are generally low-income, under-served, and unrecognized by politicians who make weekly jaunts to D.C.
- The 2014 high school graduation rate in D.C. public schools was 58.3 percent.
- While slightly less than half of the District’s population is black, more than 91 percent of its prison inmates are black.
- In D.C., poor babies are more than 10 times as likely to die as rich ones.
- In 2013, about 27 percent of District residents worked for the federal government. That’s a lot, but it also means that nearly three-quarters of residents do not work for the federal government.
- On a lighter note: D.C.’s culinary scene is more than just stuffy steakhouses. Fight the stereotype, and eat somewhere else.
As residents — and, we hope, future presidents — know, the District is a whole lot more than just these statistics in need of improvement, although it’s not immune to problems facing American cities.