Report: North Carolinians in "Concentrated Poverty" Suffer


North Carolinians living in communities of “concentrated poverty” across the state – communities with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher - are facing a “double burden,” states a new report by The N.C. Budget and Tax Center, a division of the progressive N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh.

Titled, “ Going Backwards: A Growth in Concentrated Poverty Signals Increasing Levels of Economic and Racial Segregation,” the report, written by NCBTC researcher Brian Kennedy II, continues that, “This “double burden” limits economic mobility and prosperity, not just for those experiencing poverty, but for every community member, and ultimately, for the entire state.”

Kennedy goes on to state that concentrated poverty is the result of bad state policy choices, like “state-supported discriminatory housing markets, poorly executed public housing projects, interstate and highway projects made possible through eminent domain laws, and a lack of investment in public services – that have reinforced barriers.”

What is the result for citizens living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty? Isolation from vital needed resources like jobs, access to wealth, and a quality education,’ the report continues. There are also environmental and geographical challenges those in poverty are forced to contend with.

And because of that social and resource isolation, the communities of people subject to concentrated poverty are not only stigmatized, but socially and governmentally neglected.

The NCBTC report goes on to state that since 2000, the number of neighborhoods with people living in concentrated poverty across the state, has tripled.

In 2016, “…more than 348,000 North Carolinians living in 109 concentrated poverty neighborhoods, far outpaced the 84,493 people in 37 concentrated poverty communities in 2000, according to the report.

Between 2012 and 2016, African-American North Carolinians were 71 percent likely than Latinos, and 434 percent more likely than whites to be living in concentrated poverty, the report continues.

And concentrated poverty is no longer an exclusive urban problem. There is growing evidence that rural communities are now subject to the “double burden” of concentrated poverty. In 2000, only 13 neighborhoods of concentrated poverty were found in rural communities. In 2016, that number more than tripled to 45.

Part of the reason, states the NCBTC report, is the increasing gentrification of North Carolina cities, which is driving housing prices through the roof, thus forcing the poor and working poor to flee to rural North Carolina for survival.

Finally, the report recommends that state policymakers counter the “double burden” of concentrated poverty by “boosting the income of those earning poverty level wages; erase the physical barriers to accessing opportunity;” and that they also “…recognize the historic and continuous role of policy in driving inequalities.”