Growing Numbers of NC Suburbanites Slip into Poverty
PHOTO: Tazra Mitchell authored the new report about North Carolina's suburban areas which experienced record growth in poverty in the last decade.
August 8, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Suburbia in North Carolina is no longer all lush lawns and large houses. The state's suburbs are changing, according to a new study - and not for the better.
The state's suburban population facing poverty has grown 13 times faster than in urban areas. Attributed to job losses in the recent recession, the shift is placing an extra demand on nonprofits that aren't positioned to help the suburban population.
Karen Browning is executive director of the Charlotte Area Fund, which increasingly also serves the suburbs of Mecklenberg County.
"The face of suburbia has changed as the face of poverty has changed. We've restructured ourselves to meet the need, are calling upon other agencies that serve the same population."
The Charlotte Area Fund served three times as many people as it had planned from 2010 to 2011. According to the report from the North Carolina Justice Center, the number of poor individuals living in suburbs has grown by 40 percent in the past 10 years.
Report author Tazra Mitchell, public policy fellow at the center, points out that suburban nonprofit groups and community action agencies have had to strengthen their safety-net programs, including emergency food and job assistance.
"They weren't as prepared to address the rise in demand for services. Because there are more people who are poor in urban areas, that safety net has been stronger. It's more established. "
A statewide "Face to Face With Poverty" initiative is the topic of a Town Hall meeting on Thursday in Charlotte. The goal of the initiative is long-term solutions to the growing numbers of poor in the state. In the past 10 years, 670,000 North Carolinians have slid into poverty.