Lower wages, segregated communities and inferior schools have contributed to the marginalization of black and Hispanic residents within North Carolina’s largest city, according to a report released by UNC School of Law faculty at the N.C. Poverty Research Fund.
“This is a problem in a lot of cities that are growing economically,” said study co-author Heather Hunt, a law school research associate. “There’s this ongoing question of, ‘Where does this growth go? Who’s experiencing the growth?’”
The N.C. Poverty Research Fund study found black and Hispanic residents are three times as likely to live below the poverty line than their white counterparts.
The study showed that Charlotte’s poverty rates, which have nearly doubled since 2000, are highest in neighborhoods with more minority residents. In 2014, 79 neighborhoods in Mecklenburg County had more than 20 percent of residents living in poverty, 70 of the neighborhoods had a non-white majority.
“(Charlotte) is this glittering metropolitan region ... and yet there’s still these pockets of poverty that all this wealth bypassed,” Hunt said.
Schools situated in the poorest neighborhoods of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, which have the most minority residents, were more likely to receive low marks from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, according to the study.
Dee O’Dell, co-chairperson of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force, said he is troubled by the city’s segregation.
“It feels less and less like we are part of one community,” he said. “When you have that divide, it’s easy to be stuck in your own world and not have a bridge to the other side.”