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Confronting Rapid Change

Poverty and wealth: Bookends of Region One.

During the next several years, Southeastern Fairfax County is predicted to "have the most significant and largest change" in demographics of the four regions that make up Fairfax County.

That was the word from Kenneth P. Disselkoen, regional manager, Human Services, Fairfax County, at the initial session of the Community Lunch Series. Held at the South County Government Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Sept. 15, the session concentrated on how the changing demographics is impacting human services needs and delivery.

Region One was expanded as a result of the 2000 Census to include the Springfield/Kingstowne area of the county. It is comprised primarily of the Mount Vernon and Lee Magisterial Districts.

"This is a very dynamic part of the county right now," Disselkoen said.

"There is more poverty in this region, but it is insignificantly different from the county as a whole. And, this region also has great wealth," he said.

Sara Daleski, manager, Research, Analysis and Project Services, Department of Systems Management for Human Services, a Fairfax County demographer, gave a detailed account of changes that have come to light as a result of the 2000 Census. "There is a lot of diversity in this region," she said.

And, that diversity is constantly in flux, according to Daleski. However, the actual changes throughout this decade can not be documented until the next decennial census. "What we have now [in terms of data] will be what we have until the next census," she said.

The Hispanic population has shown the greatest growth since 1990, Disselkoen said.

"Hispanics grew from five percent of Region One's population in 1990 to 15 percent as of the 2000 data," he said. Both the Caucasian and Asian populations showed only a small increase of approximately two percent, according to demographic data.

"We are now more similar to the rest the county than we were before. Throughout the county as a whole, 30 percent speak other than English at home," Disselkoen said.

DALESKI HANDED OUT a chart with the demographic details of Region One to the approximately 30-member audience. It detailed the statistics assembled by the census, painting a numbers picture of the region as of June 1, 2004. Some information included:

* Total population is just short of one million.

* Total households are nearly 80,000 with an average household size of 2.61.

* Total population percentages by race are 63.3 White; 17.8 Black/African American; Asian/Pacific Islander 9.3; some other race 5.6; and two or more races 4. The greatest disparities between Region One and the rest of the county is in the category of Black/African American. In Region One they account for 17.8 percent of the population, while countywide that figure is 8.6 percent.

THE LATTER PORTION of the program was presented by Becky Witsman, executive director, Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation. She outlined the improvements along the Route 1 corridor as a result of the ongoing revitalization program.

She placed particular emphasis on the anticipated Kings Crossing development, the Federal Realty property which is to be redevelopment into a consolidated mall, and various housing developments that have occurred along Richmond Highway.

The next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 17, will focus on Housing Resources.