The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity is a nonpartisan academic center that furthers research and policymaking on issues relating to poverty. The Center is not a direct service agency for aiding individuals with specific legal, financial or other needs. In North Carolina, please consult the following list of organizations for assistance.
The Benefit Bank of North Carolina
The Benefit Bank is a web-based, "one-stop-shop" service that centralizes the process of applying for many state and federal benefits. The Benefit Bank's eligibility screening tool informs low- and moderate-income people of the benefits to which they are entitled and helps maximize those benefits and tax refunds. It is free to use and was developed for implementation in community-based, faith-based, governmental, job-training, healthcare or social service agencies. There is an online self-serve tool in addition to counselor-assisted Benefit Bank sites.
The EITC is the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax credit available to thousands of working North Carolinians. If you qualify for the EITC, you can receive a refund from both the federal and state government, but many people fail to claim it on their tax returns. It is estimated that over $132 million goes unclaimed in North Carolina.
EITC Carolinas works to ensure that all eligible tax filers receive valuable tax credits, like the EITC and the Child Tax Credit. They support a network of free, volunteer tax preparation sites that are a part of the IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program.
The State Employees Credit Union (SECU) is also partnering with the IRS on the VITA program, offering free tax preparation at all of their branch offices to qualifying members. They also offer Tax Refund Express Loans, which are low-cost alternatives to the Refund Anticipation Loans offered by commercial tax preparers.
Carolina Law Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
This student organization at the UNC School of Law provides tax assistance to low and mode rate income taxpayers who meet certain income and other restrictions. Volunteers, who have all been certified by the IRS, are available to help with tax filings at the UNC School of Law library and the Chapel Hill Women's Center at specific days and times through April 15. To find out more about their schedule and who is eligible, visit the Carolina Law VITA website.
NC Foreclosure Help
Sponsored by a variety of state agencies and prominent non-profits, this website provides advice and helpful links for homeowners facing foreclosure. It also contains information on foreclosure rates, maps, reports and papers and proposed legislation.
The website also contains information on the NC Hope Hotline - 888.995.HOPE. The NC Hope Hotline is a partnership between the State of North Carolina and the national Hope Hotline, created to help homeowners facing foreclosure crises.
The Hope Hotline is a toll-free number that homeowners can call seven days a week, 24 hours a day to receive free counseling on options to avoid foreclosure. In face-to-face meetings, these counselors will help homeowners work with their mortgage companies to avoid foreclosing on their home.
Compass Center for Women and Families (Chapel Hill, NC)
Compass Center for Women and Families in Chapel Hill offers the opportunity to speak with a volunteer attorney by phone for 15 minutes to discuss a variety of legal issues, through its Legal Information Service. These legal services are available to all residents of North Carolina, male or female, of all income levels.
Compass Center for Women and Families in Chapel Hill also offers workshops on financial issues and career counseling. It is also a Benefit Bank site, where counselors guide clients through an online tool that matches clients with benefits for which they qualify.
The Women's Center (Raleigh, NC)
The Women's Center in Raleigh offers a free domestic law hotline, which volunteer attorneys staff twice a month. The free service is only available to women, and no inquiries about income will be made. Women may to speak with an attorney for 10 - 15 minutes about their rights and options with regard to domestic legal issues (separation, divorce, child custody, property issues, etc.).
Women's Resource Center of Greensboro
The Women's Resource Center of Greensboro offers an attorney hotline is available to women, age 18 and older, in need of information on a variety of legal issues. Volunteer attorneys offer 15 minutes of legal consultation over the phone, for those who have made an appointment. The legal areas handled by these attorneys include: Civil, Corporate, Criminal, Domestic, Education, Employment, Environmental, Landlord/Tenant, Financial, Business/Bankruptcy, Immigration, Juvenile, Patent, Health, General Litigation, Business Start-Up, Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Real Estate, Tax, Wills/Probate, and Worker's Compensation. The Women's Resource Center also occasionally offers workshops led by attorneys, on a variety of legal issues.
Legal Aid of North Carolina
Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to low-income individuals dealing with civil matters. LANC operates in all 100 counties in North Carolina through 24 geographically based offices. Call or visit the Legal Aid website to find the office near you, and to determine eligibility (as it varies depending on the type of legal case).
Justice 4All is a program of the NC Bar Association, which seeks to erase the disparities in access to the legal system for the poor. In addition to its education and legislative efforts, each year, the campaign provides one day, usually at the beginning of March, of free legal help through volunteer attorneys. For more information, visit the Justice 4All website.
NC Lawyer Referral Service
In state: 800.662.7660
Out of state: 919.677.8574
The NC Lawyer Referral Service is a nonprofit public service sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association Foundation. The service provides names and contact information of lawyers in your geographic area dealing with your legal issue, who are in good standing with the NC Bar Association. There is no fee to use the referral service; however, the service does NOT make referrals to pro bono (free) attorneys. Attorneys participating in the LRS agree to charge no more than $30 for the first 30 minutes of the initial consultation. The attorney will discuss any additional fees beyond the initial consultation. The NC Lawyer Referral Service is available to you by telephone or online via the link above.
NC Department of Health and Human Services
Care Line information and referral service: 800.662.7030
The NC Department of Health and Human Services operates the Care Line information and referral service to help individuals find social services in the areas of: children and youth; families and adults; older adults; health; Medicaid; and disability services. The Department also offers the online equivalent of the telephone referral service, called NC careLINK where you may find social services using an online search function.
Durham System of Care-Network of Care
The Network of Care is an online information clearinghouse for individuals, families and agencies involved with children and youth ages 0-18. This online community provides information, communication and advocacy tools with a single point of entry. There is no phone number associated with the Network of Care - it is strictly an online tool.