N.C. Poverty Research Fund

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Scotland Neck, Halifax County


Poverty is North Carolina’s greatest challenge. In one of the most economically vibrant states of the richest nation on earth, poverty is as common as it is ignored. And you're more likely to be poor if you're a woman, a child, a person of color, a high-school drop-out, unemployed, disabled. Too many are being left out, to the detriment of all.

The purpose of the N.C. Poverty Research Fund is to explore, document and research the immense challenges of economic hardship in North Carolina. Through generous foundation and private support, the Fund hires undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students and faculty to probe the causes of and solutions to economic injustice in the Tar Heel state.


Durham Report

Durham, NC is generating lots of buzz. Its downtown is trendy, its economy is cutting edge, and its residents on average earn more and are better educated than in the state. But as more people move in and a hot housing market gets hotter, long-time residents, often working class African American renters, are getting pushed out.

In this report, we focus on the main neighborhoods in Durham that were redlined in the 1930s, examining the connection between past policies, ongoing poverty and contemporary displacement.

Racial Inequality, Poverty and Gentrification in Durham North Carolina

Goldsboro Report

Our most recent report on economic distress in North Carolina focuses on Goldsboro, a small city in the eastern part of the state. There, profound issues of isolation along racial and economic lines affect Goldsboro's future prospects. Numerous committed civic leaders have started to come together to try to address these deep and persistent divisions.

Criminalizing Poverty through Court Fines and Fees

In trial courts across North Carolina, poor defendants in criminal and traffic cases are charged fines and fees they can't afford. Unable to come up with the means to pay off this debt, poor defendants face additional penalties, including new fees, extended probation, license revocation and, incredibly, jail time--often for offenses too minor to warrant incarceration in the first place.

Our report, Court Fines and Fees: Criminalizing Poverty in North Carolina, uses defendants' stories, court observations and interviews with advocates, judges and public defenders to explore the ways fines and fees trap poor defendants in a vicious cycle of debt and punishment. We examine how fines and fees raise troubling questions of constitutionality, cast doubt on the fairness of our courts and infringe on judicial independence. We scrutinize claims about the necessity and cost efficiency of fines and fees and look at the factors that drove their rise in the state. We conclude with simple, straightforward recommendations that can be easily adopted by the courts. 

Other reports in our Economic Distress in North Carolina series

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