In summer 2013, the Poverty Center undertook demographic and narrative research on the issue of urban poverty in North Carolina, focusing specifically on Mecklenburg and Durham counties.
A previous study, The State of North Carolina's Urban Distressed Communities () by UNC researchers Allen Serkin and Stephen Whitlow, reviewed "distressed" Census tracts in North Carolina, finding great depth of urban poverty in particular tracts. Summer research assistant Alison Templeton prepared an updated report on limited portions of the original study for Durham and Mecklenburg counties only. The report, Urban Poverty Data Update for Durham and Mecklenburg Counties (), found an increase in the percentage of distressed tracts as well as increased levels of poverty, child poverty, and families headed by single mothers.
William High and Todd Owen at The UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies updated the Serkin and Whitlow report. The report, North Carolina's Distressed Urban Tracts: A View of the State's Economically Disadvantaged Communities, uses new poverty, per capita income, and unemployment numbers to give us a fresh look at urban poverty.