Urban Poverty Research

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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 (PDF), 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.

Media Conversation on Urban Poverty

  • The Greensboro News and Record discusses the Triad's high poverty rate as well as non-profit responses to the growing demand.
  • Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane calls for series of mayoral summits on poverty.
  • "No Tax Hike; Calls for Poverty Task Force", WFAE.org (Center's urban poverty research cited as reason for task force).
  • Fannie Flono of the Charlotte Observer wrote an editorial about the Metro Mayors conference, citing some of her city's challenges (64,000 people living in extreme poverty, and high child poverty rates in Mecklenburg County's distressed tracts).
  • Mel Williams' editorial "What can we do about the crisis of child poverty?" Durham Herald Sun, October 30, 2013.
  • Joe Polich's editorial "The other Durham: Poverty up in poorest areas," Durham Herald Sun, October 22, 2013.
  • The NC Metropolitan Mayors Coalition discussed urban poverty at their meeting in Charlotte in February 2013. In their press release (available at the Metro Mayors website), Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane calls for further study and targeted strategies for addressing pockets of urban poverty.

Urban Poverty Maps

Interactive Map of Poverty in Durham County by Census Tract (click on a tract for more information)

Source: 2012 ACS 5-Year Estimates

Interactive Map of Poverty in Forsyth County by Census Tract (click on a tract for more information)

Source: 2012 ACS 5-Year Estimates

Interactive Map of Poverty in Mecklenburg County by Census Tract (click on a tract for more information)

Source: 2012 ACS 5-Year Estimates
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