The center works closely with undergraduate, graduate and law students interested in poverty issues.
Tim Longest prepared a memo on homelessness in Charlotte, focusing on different data about the city's homeless population, the increase in homelessness since before the Great Recession, and the demographic makeup of the homeless community. The report included recommendations for further study.
Teresa Cook prepared a memo on the shocking prevalence of food insecurity in our state, and in the Triad area in particular. Food insecurity is defined in many ways, but typically it is characterized by stress and worry about where a person's next meal is going to come from or the sacrificing of basic needs in order to afford food.
Alison Templeton prepared an updated report on a previous study, The State of North Carolina's Urban Distressed Communities undertaken by UNC researchers Allen Serkin and Stephen Whitlow, that reviewed "distressed" Census tracts in North Carolina, finding the serious depth of urban poverty in particular tracts. Alison's research updated limited portions of the original study, focusing on distressed urban tracts in Durham and Mecklenburg counties only to better understand the demographic changes in those areas since the 2000 Census. 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.
Brandon Robinson prepared a memo on undocumented immigrants in North Carolina with particular focus on undocumented youth and the challenges they face, particularly in accessing higher education, jobs, and other features of productive citizenship.
Andrew Hennessy-Strahs prepared a research paper on entrepreneurship policy, including the recent JOBS Act, and how it impacts poverty, the job market, and economic recovery from the global recession. Startup companies can play a crucial role in job creation, and alleviating poverty, if the climate is right, and Andrew's paper describes recent and pending legislation and initiatives to encourage start-ups.
Students worked on a range of projects, including homelessness in eastern North Carolina, unfair rate setting by the electric companies, the connection between the criminal justice system and poverty, and economic development in a small, rural town. A few highlights....
Galo Centenera examined homelessness in Elizabeth City and Fayetteville, two of the stops on the poverty tour where this was a big issue. Michael Shapiro also compiled a report on homelessness throughout the state looking at various national studies and point in time count results.
Prepaid card project
Justice Warren drafted comments in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Advanced Notice of Rulemaking in support of prepaid card reforms that protect consumers while allowing prepaid cards to be a viable alternative means of conducting financial affairs for consumers who cannot access traditional bank accounts or who find such accounts do not meet their needs. Prepaid cards are like debit cards but are not linked to a traditional checking account. Like a debit card, prepaid cards can be used to pay bills, get money from an ATM, receive direct deposit or purchase items online or in a store. Unlike debit cards, prepaid cards are not regulated by federal rules which require banks to provide statements to consumers, limit consumer liability for unauthorized transactions, and disclose terms and conditions of use.
Collateral consequences of mass incarceration
Natalya Rice prepared research on the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, with an additional focus on how race plays into this discussion. Collateral consequences are direct and indirect consequences of incarceration that impact offenders during and after their incarceration, including civil disabilities impacting one's ability to access public benefits or vote, employment barriers, and the impact on local communities and families. Read Natalya's research.
Michael Shapiro drafted comments in support of a request before the NC Utilities Commission to examine the way that Duke Energy allocates its rates. He argues that Duke's current method unfairly burdens residences and small businesses and has an especially harmful impact on poor people.
Charts created by a research assistant showing the disproportionate amount paid by residential users and its effect.
More information on student research
Access to Justice
The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity is currently focusing some of its research efforts on issues of access to justice. It is widely estimated that 80% of poor people in the U.S. cannot afford an attorney and cannot obtain representation by a publicly funded lawyer or one willing to work pro bono.
More information on Access to Justice
Community Empowerment Fund
The Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) is a student-run nonprofit that offers savings opportunities, small loans, financial education and a supportive network to qualified low income individuals in Chapel Hill and Durham.
More information on CEF
Poverty Center Seed Funding Grants
The Seed Funding Grants were intended to encourage interdisciplinary poverty-related research at the university. These grants offered short-term funding for researchers to develop innovative and applied research projects with community partners that lead to larger, sustained efforts.
More information on the Seed Funding Grants
The New Orleans Recovery Initiative
The New Orleans Recovery Initiative (NORI) connected the university's expertise with efforts to rebuild the city after Katrina. Begun in spring 2007, NORI spanned over a year, involved numerous UNC faculty, staff and students, developed community and institutional partners in New Orleans, worked with neighborhood associations to assist in their regrowth, produced reports and maps, and has become an integral and ongoing part of the Center on Urban and Regional Studies at UNC.
More on the New Orleans Recovery Initiative