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Shattering Myths About Prince George's

Relatively affordable housing costs and a strong regional economy are luring a steady stream of new residents to Prince George's County--even if the county's busiest hospital is on the verge of shutting down. But many of the county's new residents are low earners, dragging down the county's average family income. A new study portrays Prince George's as a suburb in flux, with consistently large movements of moderate-income people, both black and white, out of the county, while people with lower incomes are moving in.

Using Census and IRS data, Brookings scholars Brooke DeRenzis and Alice Rivlin tried to see whether there really is cause for concern that Prince George's is becoming the refuge for Washington area residents priced out by soaring real estate costs throughout the rest of the region.

What they found is a county with large, almost equal flows of people moving both in and out. In fact, the number of people moving out so closely tracks the number of people moving in that nearly all of Prince George's population growth--from 729,000 in 1990 to 840,000 in 2005--stems from natural factors (more births than deaths) rather than from migration.

And while we've known for many years that Prince George's is growing fast -- and that the majority of those moving in are black and the majority of those moving out are white -- the facts on the ground are actually more complex than that.

For some years, Prince George's officials have complained that the District was in essence dumping poor people over the border into the county. When the city tore down low-income housing projects, and developers built more high-end housing, poor people moved into the county, the theory went. The Brookings study finds, however, that "thousands of lower-income and mostly minority workers are moving in both directions" across the D.C.-Prince George's border. And counter to the stereotype, those who have moved from Prince George's into the District "consistently had lower incomes than the larger number of migrants moving into Prince George's County from D.C."

So what you have is poor people searching for better (or more affordable) housing and decent schools wherever they can find them, in the city or the suburbs. Meanwhile, higher up the economic ladder, the movement is primarily out of Prince George's and into Anne Arundel, Charles and Howard counties--among both whites and blacks.

One concern voiced by Prince George's officials--that those moving into the county are too often families at the low end of the income spectrum--is borne out by the study, which found that as the Prince George's population has become more heavily foreign-born and black, income levels of newcomers have been getting lower.

Between 1990 and 2005, the county has gone from 50 percent black to 65 percent black, and the white portion of the population has declined from 42 percent to 19 percent--a vastly more dramatic change than anything experienced in the District, where the white population went up only marginally, from 27 percent to 31 percent, while blacks accounted for 65 percent of the city in 1990 and 56 percent in 2005. During that same time, the Latino population in Prince George's has nearly tripled, from four percent to 11 percent--again, a vastly higher rate of growth than in Washington.

The authors conclude that Latino, foreign-born and black families are increasingly moving from Montgomery County to Prince George's "in search of affordable housing, better schools or safer neighborhoods."

Interestingly, much of the movement between the District and Prince George's involves very short distances. Seven in 10 of the D.C. residents who moved to Prince George's over the past decade found new homes right near the county-city boundary, and almost half of them chose housing in the neighborhoods that border Southeast D.C.

Despite the influx of poorer residents, Prince George's has managed to keep its poverty rate below the national average. Perhaps more important, Prince George's has no neighborhoods that meet the official definition of concentrated poverty (census tracts where 30 percent or more of the residents fall below the poverty line.)

The study provides new evidence for one of the truisms of this region: Political borderlines may make a huge difference in what kind of services you receive, but the demographic character of communities remains fairly blind to the lines on official maps. Just as the people who live in the far reaches of upper Northwest are demographically remarkably similar to residents of neighboring Arlington and Chevy Chase, and neighborhoods along the Montgomery-Prince George's border are generally indistinguishable from their counterparts on the other side of the county line, so too are the distinctions between Southeast Washington and inner Prince George's minimal at best.

The Brookings study calls on Prince George's to identify ways to make higher income residents happier and halt the flow of more affluent families from the county out to Charles, Howard and Anne Arundel.

By Marc Fisher |  April 11, 2007; 7:35 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

We are some of the high income, white people trying to move out of the county. We have a $1.3 million house that is being built on 10 acres but we want out - we don't want out because of the black people or anything like that - we want out because of the ridiculousness we have seen on the county council over the past 5 years - it has taken us almost 3 to build this house - had we known, we never would have. I never have lived in a place where a whole county gets a bad rap because of a few places - there are plenty of decent places to live in the county. If the county executive (one of the county's major problems) and the county council (another major problem) don't wake up and take some corrective actions, the whole county will end up like those relatively few places. And they can't rely on things like the new development on the river or Wegmann's - the problem isn't a lack of shopping or upscale restaurants - the problem is a lack of a decent education and guns and drugs - get kids in school and keep them off the streets - make education a priority for the parents - then people start making more money and its not just the low-end people in the county anymore.
The media are a big part of the problem, too. When a murder happens, it doesn't happen in PG or Prince George's County, but that is how it is portrayed. It actually happens in Suitland or some particular town, just like when it happens in some other location. It is treated very differently when something happens in another county - it always seems to happen on one particular block of some town - the exact opposite.
We don't know where we are going, but I don't think this county is going to get any better until the council starts caring about things that matter and the people stop accepting the violence. That probably means a new council and thank goodness Jack Johnson won't be back because of term limits. But for as quickly as the change has happened in the demographics, it will take much much longer to move things in the opposite direction. It is sad to see such de facto segregation still in existence.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 8:49 AM

"The authors conclude that Latino, foreign-born and black families are increasingly moving from Montgomery County to Prince George's "in search of affordable housing, better schools or safer neighborhoods.""

I guess I learned something today - Prince George's County has better schools and safer neighborhoods than Montgomery County.

Who would have thought ...

Posted by: SoMD | April 11, 2007 9:10 AM

I'm a white homeowner who first rented, then bought, in the County. Best move I ever made - financially and for my quality of life. However, the first commenter hit the nail on the head with his comments about the media. EVERY criminal act gets front-page metro play, typically with the implication that crime somehow occurred ubiqitously all over the county at the same time. No it didn't - it occurred in one small area near the southeast border. But instead of naming the town that the crime occurred in, an article's Title will name the County - the 500 square-mile county. How is that fair? Conversely, cute kitschy fluff pieces in the Paper ALWAYS exclude the County. As if we don't have dog parks, or hiker/biker paths or playhouses (15) or yoga or brewpubs or... Do you see what I'm getting at? The Washington Post dehumanizes the County by only covering it with regard to crime. That is unfair and it is not an accurate representation. To sum, it's only when I read this Paper, that I realize my life is supposed to be so terrible.

Posted by: Laurelite | April 11, 2007 9:15 AM

Prince Georges County has led all counties in the entire Washington DC region in commercial construction for the past two years (source: COG). Every station on the Northern greenline will be built-out with housing, office and retail in 2 to 10 years. Home price went up 18 percent in 2006 according this newspaper. Finally, attention is being paid to the inner communities through development around metro stations. I'm not a homer, not even from here. But it makes little sense to significantly add to your commute unless you are getting your dream house. But, this is america - people can do whatever they want. Just curious, why does Marc care what the average income of the overall County is? Is there some bragging rights that I'm not aware of? Does anyone go to cocktail parties and say "Well buffy, my County has an average income of $90k, what do you make of that" (it sounds better with a fake english accent).

Posted by: trafficman | April 11, 2007 9:33 AM

'The authors conclude that Latino, foreign-born and black families are increasingly moving from Montgomery County to Prince George's "in search of affordable housing, better schools or safer neighborhoods."'

Where are these less Montgomery County areas where the schools are worse and the neighborhoods are more dangerous than in PG County? I'd really like to know, and I'd like the Montgomery County council to know, too, so that they can take action to stop the decline in Montgomery County.

Posted by: L | April 11, 2007 9:35 AM

Thanks for standing up for where I grew up! I spend childhood and college years in PG county, and I always thought the place had a reputation it didn't quite deserve. My public schools were fine. Sure we had discipline problems and fights in the hallway, but you can find that in Montgomery County too. I had some great teachers who really pushed me instead of being content to let this quiet A/B student drift. There are some bad spots in PG county, but where I grew up it was racially mixed families living in relative harmony in single family homes on quiet tree-lined streets. I could safely bike all around Beltsville, and the local library kept me entranced. It was only when I moved to Montgomery County (to be closer to husband's job) that I realized that PG was missing so many fine restaurants and stores, but that was really all they were missing.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | April 11, 2007 9:36 AM

First commenter - you'll find the same sort of BS in Montgomery County.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | April 11, 2007 9:38 AM

Not sure what myths got `shattered` by this study. Most folks think PG has been in a steady decline for two decades...that crime is out of control, and the government is corrupt and inept. And they are right.

Posted by: gitarre | April 11, 2007 9:42 AM

L - Try Lincoln Park in Rockville.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | April 11, 2007 9:42 AM

It seems like on issue is that the population in PG is fluid. So there isn't a commitment to the community.

I think in Montgomery, particularly with regard to the schools, you see a community commitment. Long-term residents whose children attended schools there see a benefit from Weast and his efforts to make the schools top-notch. So they pay up, and don't gripe at their council members about it.

But in PG where people are always on the move that long-term commitment hasn't developed. So people gripe, and don't want to pay for services.

Just read all the posts here blaming the hospital problems in illegals. Who knows if that's REALLY the problem, but it is an us/them set-up.

I think the PG community needs to face reality. Part of the cost of living in PG is supporting at least minimal public health. Property taxes which will be reflected in prices and rents should support this facility.

Posted by: AnnR | April 11, 2007 10:29 AM

Try Wheaton
Try SS near Takoma
Try Gaithersburg
Try Montgomery village

Pick up a Gazette. Read the blotters. Your county is not all Potomac and Chevy Chase, as much as your leaders would love for you to believe that. Obviously, you drank amply from the kool-aid.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 10:30 AM

For sure, I would venture that the municipalities of University Park and Hyattsville (and probably a lot of other municipalities in the northern part of the County) are much safer than their counterparts in MoCo or elsewhere. Why are people austounded by this? Prince George's County is HUGE.

It never fails to amaze me that almost everyone realizes that DC (which is much smaller geographically) has great, safe, tony communities but somehow Prince George's is all slums and gangs. Perhaps the media is to blame for some of this. I don't deny that parts of the County are less desirable than others, but it is often portrayed as a problem afflicting the entire jurisdiction. Goodness knows the media ALWAYS mislables crimes as occuring in Hyattsville.

Posted by: in Hyattsville | April 11, 2007 10:32 AM

Sounds like your talking about Canada to most people as you do not use the State with the County name so who cares?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 10:34 AM

First of all I question the study's conclusion that low income Prince George's County residents are moving to DC in greater numbers than impoverished District residents are moving out. I'm willing to bet that Brookings did not research where these so called "Low Income Prince Georges County," residents were 10 years ago. Chances are that most were actually DC residents tossed out of the city when the district purged its public housing projects and are only now moving back to DC.

Second, let's not forget that Prince George's County kept all of its low income housing open over the past 10 years when it could have just shut them down the way DC did. Many counties such as Loudon have made it public policy to not build affordable housing. So Prince George's County has shouldered more than it's fair share of the load in caring for the regions low income resident.

The citizens of Prince Georges County have made a conscious decision to deal with the difficult problems of poverty instead of sweeping them over to the next county. That makes me proud to be a resident of the County. I wonder why that story never gets told. Or the one about the 15 thousand gangs members in VA. If Prince George's County had the number of gang members that VA and Montgomery County had you would see an article in the paper everyday entitled "Gangs of PG." Every local news station would start their nightly broadcast with the "Gangs of PG." But since it's Fairfax or Montgomery we don't here anything. After all, they wouldn't stand for their home counties being abused in the media every day.

Finally, just to reiterate, the majority of the county is a peaceful place. I wonder how Washington Post reporters live in Prince George's County. Oh well, for those who choose to move, enjoy your overpriced aluminum sided homes with the two hour commute. I'm staying put. Who would have thought; 30 years in the county and I've never been shot.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 10:57 AM

L: email your question to

Posted by: Mike | April 11, 2007 11:04 AM

"I wonder how Washington Post reporters live in Prince George's County."

Not only do I doubt very many members of the D.C. media elite (both print and broadcast) live in Prince George's, but I'd guess most only visit the county when the Redskins are playing at FedEx or, perhaps, to see a University of Maryland athletic event (although few of them would dare send their children to such a plebeian place).

Posted by: Vincent | April 11, 2007 11:11 AM

DC did not purge its public housing communities. It demolished them through neglect. Don't blame the residents unless you visited some, as I did. Apartment interiors were almost always well-appointed and well-kept by tenants. The District was -- and is -- a bad landlord, a slumlord, and would have put a private owner in prison for such neglect of plumbing, electric problems, roof leaks, untreated foundation settling, and more. The aptly named Section 8 subsidized apartment complexes are no better, and allow private landlords -- former DC officials or big campaign contributors -- to make big money and then write off the damage created through their own neglect, blame tenants, rip down the flimsy dwellings, and flip their properties.

Posted by: Mike Licht | April 11, 2007 11:20 AM

To all those people that think they need to move to Pittsburgh to find a single-family house in a nice neighborhood, read these thoughtful intelligent comments. These are the people that would be your neighbors if you just did your own research. The WashingtonPost has done an enormous disfavor to you by its innacurate portrayal of the County to the region's homebuyers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 11:25 AM

Let's be real Marc. You wrote this article because you're sick of Prince George's County residents blaming the District for crime inside the beltway. You won't be happy until you rewrite history and absolve the District's police department and school system of all responsibility. After all, once they move out of DC they're not DC residents right. Isn't that the strategy of the Metropolitan Police Department?

But you can't pull the wool over our eyes. Many of us have been in Prince George's County to long. We know what the County was before Tony Williams and what it became after his tenure. When our cars are stolen we know all we have to do is drive around SE for a half hour and you're bound to see some 14 year old kid driving around in it. Ask any Prince George's County school teacher how many DC kids are in their classes. The so called "troubled border communities," were professional neighborhoods in the 80s. They didn't turn working class until DC began its purge of the public housing projects. We in Prince George's County don't mind tackling the tough issues, but let's not hide behind the Brookings Institute and rewrite the history of the District and the County.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 11:27 AM

Of course the media do not know the names of different communities in PG -- they do not even know the names of the two-dozen DC neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

Posted by: Mike | April 11, 2007 11:28 AM

I wonder which group has the bigger chip on its shoulders: Prince Georges County residents in MD or Prince William County residents in VA?

There was a great story a week or so ago in the WaPo about how PWC residents were whining because a Jaguar dealership chose to locate elsewhere and how the Presidents' Cup golf tourney was moving to California and how this made it look like PWC was the same old trashy place. A JAGUAR dealership! They had to settle for something downscale like BMW. LOL

And as for the golf, Robert Trent Jones isn't moving his course anywhere.

Posted by: Loudounian | April 11, 2007 11:53 AM

Before we get too many recitations of the old canard about how Post reporters supposedly don't know or don't live in Prince George's, may I interrupt with a couple of facts?
I just checked the staff directory and here's the breakdown of where the journalists who cover Prince George's actually live: Four live in Prince George's County, four live in the District, one lives in Virginia and two live in other Maryland suburbs (Anne Arundel and Frederick).
Interpret that however you wish; I just thought it would be helpful to have a factual basis for your arguments.

Posted by: Fisher | April 11, 2007 12:06 PM

The media are a big part of the problem, too. When a murder happens, it doesn't happen in PG or Prince George's County, but that is how it is portrayed. It actually happens in Suitland or some particular town, just like when it happens in some other location. It is treated very differently when something happens in another county - it always seems to happen on one particular block of some town - the exact opposite.

To anon at 8:49: Suitland is in Prince George's County, so the media is not incorrect saying that the crime happened in Prince George's. The media does the same thing with Prince William and Fairfax counties in Virginia and Anne Arundel county in MD. Also, the media came under fire for attempting to report city names, only to find out that they were wrong (according to the people in the negatively affected area). That is understandable since the post office and the residents of a neighborhood often call one place by two different names.

My question is why would it make a difference to you as to whether the crime happened in Suitland or Prince George's? If it is reported as Suitland, does it allow you to distance yourself from the crime more? If the crime occurred, why does it matter where the media says it was, if the media was not wrong? Why pick on Suitland?

Posted by: New Carrollton resident | April 11, 2007 12:34 PM

The recent problem with the County Council's foolish standoff with the Executive and Gov shows how the PG County government is in need of some SERIOUS adult supervision.

Well, that's what you get when Democrats run the show I guess.

Posted by: A concerned Virginian | April 11, 2007 12:46 PM

When my child attended a Charter School in NE DC the parking lot and pick up line were filled with cars from Maryland. The pricipal acknowledged that there were some questions as to the residency of many students. Seems that the PG county parents did not have the charter school options that the DC parents did so they sent the kids anyway.

We decided to leave the whole thing behind (the second break in to our home pushed us over the edge) and headed for the relative safety and tranquility of Calvert County. A lot of folks down here grew up in PG county and moved for better schools and less density.

Posted by: Calvert County | April 11, 2007 12:55 PM

I have lived in the county for most of my life. Make more money than most college graduates. Own my house. All this while attending, and graduating from, the supposedly "troubled" PG County public schools. PG County has produced more successful people than most counties in the region. Charles County is a racist, rural area; Montgomery County is fine if you do not consider all of the gangs they have; Virginia is a commonlaw state (enough said); and the city is just starting to look half decent. The cities schools are the worst and they all transfer to PG schools for a good education. The County Executive and Councils are ridiculous. It is time for us in PG to step up and hold these people accountable. AND IF NECESSARY, PAY SOME EXTRA TAXES FOR NEWER SCHOOLS. I would be the first to vote for it and pay.

Posted by: PG_MD_Forever | April 11, 2007 1:23 PM

To anon at 8:49:

In order to maintain unbiased reporting for criminal activity, we should insist that Suitland be forever referred to as:

Suitland, Prince Georges County, the State of Maryland, United States of America, North AMerican Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, ... did I leave anything out that could offend somebody?

Posted by: SoMD | April 11, 2007 1:55 PM

The following regards "distancing oneself from crime."

Let's draw a point on a map halfway between the beltway in Prince Georges and the SE DC/MD line. A reasonably observant person would know that a disproportionate amount of violent crime happens in and around this point. Drawing a 10 mile radius around this point would cover:
99% of DC
90% of Alexandria
75% of Arlington, and only
25% of Prince Georges

Now, do you see why it is so easy for Prince Georges residents (and politicians, unfortunately) to "distance" themselves from this part of the county?
Why should residents sit back and let this part of the County be portrayed as indicative of life in the County. Bethesda, chevy chase, arlington, mclean, are all closer to this "point" than I am up here in Laurel. So why is it unreasonable, then, that other parts of the same County can be vastly different from this "point."

Posted by: Laurelite | April 11, 2007 2:10 PM

I am the poster from 8:49 - I apologize to anyone I offended by naming Suitland - I did it as an example, not to pick on that particular town. We moved here 5 years ago from out of the area, and so had a very unbiased ear as we watched the news and read the paper - more often than not, when something bad happens, it is mentioned as happening in the county, not a particular town - that is not true for Montgomery, Loudoun, Fairfax, etc. It is not fair for the entire huge county of PG to have a bad rep because of the things that happen mostly around the border with SE.
Just take a listen to the news - this would be a very interesting study for a journalism student - I can't remember what type of study it is called but PG County is not represented the same way in the news as the other counties in the area are represented.
As far as paying more tax money for better schools, I am all for it, as well. However, my husband (an attorney) did a little research and from what he found, PG actually spends more money per student than Montgomery and others do - PG just does it a lot less effectively.
The entire county council needs to go - the county did itself a great disservice when it reelected Jack Johnson. They really don't seen to be able to get anything that is effective done, but they spend a lot of time trying to legislate how people in the rural tier can subdivide their property for development. This is not their greatest crisis - they need to figure out how to get kids in school and how to get parents involved and how to get good teachers into the county.
We do not own property in the rural tier that we want to subdivide, but this was a huge issue last fall and in the meantime, they should be encouraging people to build million dollar homes on 5 acres, not on 20, which creates a much larger tax base, especially when these people are on septic, not city, and demand very few services. That includes making the permit process much more efficient - it took us well over a year to get a permit and then it wasn't even correct.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 3:10 PM

I've lived in Prince George's a good part of my life and I always wondered about the people who look down on the county. It's a wonderful county with a long, rich history. It has music, art, playhouses and theatres, large federal, state and local parks, Merkle Wildlife, Patuxent River Park, the University of Maryland [where else could one attend a concert of the Cleveland Quartet playing matched Stradivarius and not pay a whole lot to hear them?] waterways and agriculture. In addition, it has public education that suceeds. My children went through Prince George's County schools and they and their friends got into the colleges of their choice - Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia, UMich, UNC, UVA, UMD, UC-Berkeley, Caltech, GaTech, MIT, Stanford, Oberlin, Swarthmore, Williams, get the idea.

Prince George's County also is not as dangerous as often is depicted in the press. Yes, there are some dangerous areas, but all counties and cities have these areas. One need look barely over the county line into MoCo - Langley Park and Silver Spring - to find areas rife with gangs, crime and poverty. Just as there are dangerous areas in all counties, there are wonderful, safe communities in Prince Georges. One may find them all around the county, from University Park and Laurel in the north to Croom and Acoceek in the south.

Prince George's is a diverse county, with many sorts of peoples living together. It is not a homgeneous place which makes it a more interesting place. There are people from all over the world, from poverty and from wealth. This does bring with it problems, but they are problems reflective of the larger world and they are problems that we and our children need to address directly as the world gets smaller.

Posted by: Pam | April 11, 2007 3:10 PM

Low income families moving into PGCo? What did everyone expect? With all the expensive new condos and luxury rentals being built in DC, the poor familes had to go somewhere. I know good and d*mn well that people didn*t expect for the low-income to just disappear once DC became *revitalized* and the new epicenter of young professional development and lifestyle.
Let the low income have PG County and anywhere else that they can afford to live, now that the young and rich want DC.

Posted by: Girl, Interrupted | April 11, 2007 3:14 PM

I am a young, single, white, moderate-income professional woman. Where in PG County can I afford to buy a house/condo in a location where a) the commute won't kill me, and b) it's safe enough on the streets that I can walk my dog at night?

This is a serious question.

Posted by: new to DC | April 11, 2007 3:28 PM

The City of Hyattsville (not the unincorporated areas that get called Hyattsville in newscasts), Mount Ranier, College Park and Greenbelt are good places to start. Depending on how you define "Killer Commute" you could also investigate Bowie. There some for starters.

Posted by: to new to DC | April 11, 2007 3:43 PM

new to DC:

again - I am the 8:49 poster. We live in Laurel - we live in the historic district and there are several homes for sale in a very moderate price range - they aren't huge and they aren't brand new, but they generally have been renovated and have yards, mostly fenced. I walk my dogs all of the time and and have never once felt the least bit nervous about anything. I mean - I am not walking late at night, but we have lived here for 5 years.
We live within walking distance of the MARC station, which hubby uses every day, and the drive to downtown is only about 20 miles.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 3:46 PM

I grew up in Montgomery County and have now lived in Prince George's County for 10 years. The problem I see lies mainly with the media as some of the posters have stated. The Washington Post is biased and discriminates towards the County at every chance that it gets. The news media as well. You can name them all, channels 4, 5, 7, 8, 9... They all seem too excited when something "bad" happens in the county and never seem to report the particular neighborhood where such "bad" incident happened. It's always reported to make it seem that crime is happening in every neighborhood in the County. However, whenever such incident happens in Montgomery County or any VA county it's always reported in the exact locale, such as Rockville.

Obviously, this is all race based and biased toward the County because it's predominantly black. It seems that if something happens and a black person is involved the media clearly states that, but if a white person is involved it never gets mentioned other than to give a broad description of the individual as if the "vanila" description is enough.

As for why some white people are moving out of the county, let them. America is getting more and more diverse and if they cannot assimilate and live with non-whites, then they'll have a hard time no matter where they go. Yes, Prince George's County has some issues, but it's no different than those of Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel or any NOVA counties.

Lastly, if you live in Prince George's County and you're tired of the Washington Post or news media BS, stop your subscription and better yet let's boycott these biased organizations.

More to come later...

Posted by: 40Acres | April 11, 2007 3:49 PM

"I am a young, single, white, moderate-income professional woman. Where in PG County can I afford to buy a house/condo in a location where a) the commute won't kill me, and b) it's safe enough on the streets that I can walk my dog at night?

This is a serious question."

Once again I blame the media for this perception. I grew up in this area and many of the so called "revitalized" areas in DC are far more dangerous than any neighborhood in Prince George's County. But those areas are always referred to as "Hip" or "Shiek." Even if they do acknowledge crime in those neighborhoods it is often portrayed as "just part of city life." Whereas crime in Prince George's County is "A Plague," or the community is "crime ridden." The media only has one story to tell about African American communities, and that is crime, crime and more crime. And if there is no crime, we don't make the papers. New church, no story. Scholarship to Harvard, no story. Property value increase, no story. Economic gain, no story.

The artifical suppression of real estate value in historically black neighborhoods is a staple of the real estate industry.

Trust me, should all the affluent and middle class blacks pick up and leave Prince George's County today, Tomorrow's Washington Post headline would read, "Young Professional Flock to Hip, Shiek Prince George's."

Truth is, those inside the beltway neighborhoods are 10 minutes from downtown DC. We won't fall for the same tricks you used to gentrify DC.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2007 4:05 PM

New to DC - My parents' neighborhood in Beltsville is a quiet old place. The houses might be too expensive for you - I do not know your price limits - but check out the neighborhood anyway. The area around the public library is my favorite. Beltsville is close to both the College Park and Greenbelt metro stations and is just outside the Beltway.

I second the recommendations of Laurel and Bowie.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | April 12, 2007 9:05 AM

One of the reasons the media portrays PG this way is because people are typically seeking peace and quiet from the city life when they move to the suburbs. So when there is a lot of violent crime in a suburb, this is considered news. Not so in the city. The risk is assumed as a part of city life. I live in DC. There are certain things I tolerate living in the city that I would not tolerate if I moved to PG or MOCO. And if those things were occurring, I would be angry considering I moved fom the city to avoid those things. A hwile back the Post had an article about robberies and murders in PG. A black doctor was killed in his driveway or own his property. This is definitely not what someone bargains for when moving to a suburb.

Posted by: Nathan | April 12, 2007 11:31 AM

I'm a 30-something educated professional single black man who has lived in PG county for a long time. I think what people don't understand about the the migration patterns is that it's not because of crime and bad schools why affluent people are migrating to Anne Arundel and St. Charles. It's the real estate market. Most of these "affluent" people started out as moderate income citizens in the county. They got married, climbed up the corporate ladder and now have bigger familes. They need bigger homes. But who can afford a somewhat new 4 bedroom home inside the beltway? So, they move out. Everyone knows the further away from DC you get, the more house you can afford. Why not go for the new 5 bedroom 2-acre property for $300,000 than pay the same price for a 15 year old 3-bedroom 1/2 acre home for the same price?
A second thing, it's a lifestyle choice. I commute from PG to Loudoun County. I've seen the "affluent" neighborhoods in Loudoun County. But I do not wish to live there. All it has are golf courses and strip malls. Who wants to raise a family wayyyyyy out there? There's nothing to do but get into trouble. At least here you are a 20 minute subway ride to downtown. You have arts, entertainment, sports, museums, and tons of great universities; a great mix of people as well. Would I want to have to drive 25 miles just to catch a play or a musical performance? No way. So, I choose to stay because it's more convenient. Some like the rural feeling of the outlying counties.
Finally, what exactly is low-income these days? $30,000/year? $25,000/year? The cost of living has risen so much in the DC area over that past 15 years that what was once a pretty good income is now considered low-income. I know people in other states who make $30,000 and own nice single-family homes in nice neighborhoods. They move here, and they would be considered low income. They could barely afford a one-bedroom apartment here. So, it's all relative.
One last thing. I always hear people from other parts of the country saying they want to move to DC or MD (PG mostly). I never hear anyone excited about moving to Anne Arundel, Loudoun, or St. Charles Counties.

Posted by: PG Hokie | April 12, 2007 12:32 PM

All you have to do is look at the crime numbers and you will see why the media says it the way they do.

Posted by: chris | April 12, 2007 9:26 PM

What is the point of this article? What myths just got shattered? Here's a myth I'd like to shatter. I didn't move to the county because it's the only place I could afford. I'm here because this is where I can make a difference in the lives of African American people. I'm here because people have prayed and marched and died so I could get a college education and live a comfortable life. I'm here because it's the least I could do to repay those who made it possible by trying to lift up those of us who haven't yet realized their potential. This is not about median income, and not everyone is into this meaningless so-called competition between us and the other DC suburbs. Prince Georges County is alive and well, and is in many ways a miracle. I'm a proud citizen despite the many problems that we face.

Read the article published today in the Post if you want a broader view of this migration topic.

Posted by: karen | April 19, 2007 8:41 AM

Regarding the comment: "... I doubt very many members of the D.C. media elite (both print and broadcast) live in Prince George's"

I purchased my house College Park (in PG County) from a senior editor of The Post.

Posted by: John | April 24, 2007 8:06 PM

DC locals scoff at tourists who come to the nation's capital fearful of crime in Cleveland Park because they've heard of high crime rates in "DC." Yet, some of these same locals are content to consume news stories about crime in "Prince George's County," as opposed to say Suitland, MD, when PG County is large enough to comfortably envelop nearly half of the district.

Posted by: John | April 24, 2007 8:12 PM

An enormous amount of quality office, residential and retail expansion is taking place right now around all the inside-the-beltway Green Line Metro stations. In the Hyattsville/University Park/College Park area alone, there is over $1 billion of new investment going up today, including along Route 1, where the same development company that designed Shirlington Town Center is doing its thing again in old-town Hyattsville.

Posted by: John | April 24, 2007 8:15 PM

Regarding: "I am a young, single, white, moderate-income professional woman. Where in PG County can I afford to buy a house/condo in a location where a) the commute won't kill me, and b) it's safe enough on the streets that I can walk my dog at night?

This is a serious question."

Two good options are:
College Park (walk to College Park Metro), and
University Park (walk to Prince George's Plaza Metro)

Posted by: John | April 24, 2007 8:20 PM

For all the discussion of crime and income, one would think that risk (of injury and death) would fall if one were to move into exurbia. This is probably not true, for the simple reason that violent crime, even in "high crime" jurisdictions, is still rare. Injury and death due to vehicle accidents is much higher. So, you may think you are buying safety by moving into the exburbs, but your overall risk of incapacity probably is much more correlated to commute time than place of residence.

No one wants to think about this however.

Posted by: reasonable | May 2, 2007 12:33 AM

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