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All’s not well in N.C. suburbs as poverty rises
Economic decline extends beyond urban core
 
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2012 1:23 pm
by Stephanie Carroll Carson, N.C. News Service

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.


“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,” said Karen Browning, executive director of the Charlotte Area Fund.


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 forum at Covenant Presbyterian Church from 5:30-8:30 p.m. 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.


Covenant Presbyterian is located at 1000 East Morehead St.


The town hall meeting will provide participants from all walks of life a chance to offer ideas and solutions to address poverty.


A community information fair will be held from 5:30-6:30, followed by the town hall meeting. Both are free and open to the public. Elected officials scheduled to attend the town hall meeting include N.C. Reps. Ruth Samuelson and Rodney Moore of Charlotte.


The “Face to Face With Poverty Tour” is sponsored by N.C. Community Action Association, a network of 41 statewide service agencies.


Additional reporting by Herbert L. White of The Charlotte Post.

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