Discussions of poverty and its impact in Charlotte-Mecklenburg often uncover a few myths and misconceptions about who is affected, how they are affected, and how the needs of struggling neighbors are (or are not) met equitably.
Crisis Assistance Ministry is committed to educating and empowering the community to advocate for low-income families. Each month, we’ll compile relevant topics here that show up in social media and community discussions.
Who experiences poverty?
Over half of us.
While the official poverty rate in the United States is 12.3%, studies show that 51.4% of the country’s population experiences poverty by age 651. “The poor” are not a clearly-defined group; huge numbers of people fall below and rise above the poverty line each year.
1 “Understanding Poverty: Transitioning In and Out of Poverty”, The Urban Institute
Is poverty in North Carolina largely concentrated in its cities?
While the poverty rate is higher in the state’s 64 rural counties than in its 36 urban counties (18.8% vs 15.1%)1, population density means that the number of people living in poverty is much higher in cities.
And keep in mind that the overall poverty rate hides individual realities. For example, in some of Charlotte’s communities, 80% of children live in poverty2.
1 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2018
2 The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina: Stories from Our Invisible Citizens, Gene Nichol, 2018
Do Charlotte residents enjoy greater access to banking services than those in other areas of the country?
Nationwide, the percentage of unbanked1 and underbanked2 households is 25%, while here in Charlotte it’s 28%.3
Look deeper, though, and the familiar pattern of racial inequity emerges. While 15% of white families in Charlotte are un- or underbanked, the rate rises to 45% for black and Latino families.3
Families without bank accounts are less likely to save money for future emergencies and more likely to pay exorbitant fees for their financial transactions.4
1 Do not have a checking or savings account
2 May have a bank account but rely on alternatives such as payday loans and check-cashing services
3 Prosperity Now Scorecard 2019 Local Outcome Report