5/2/19 Brian Kennedy, NC Justice Center

Brian Kennedy, Public Policy Analyst in the Budget and Tax Center at North Carolina Justice Center, spoke to UNITY on Thursday, May 2.  The release of the 2019 County Snapshots is delayed until mid-May, but Brian shared some of the data analyzed thus far.

Hunger in North Carolina

  • 590,000 North Carolina households don’t have enough to eat. North Carolina has the 10th highest rate of food insecurity in the nation at 12.6%. 229,000 households report missing meals.
  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits lift more than 160,000 individuals out of poverty each year.
  • 9,700 grocers/retailers participate, pumped $2.14 billion into the state economy last year.

Hunger in District 12 (Alma Adams)

  • 1 in 6 residents, 140,860 people, do not have enough to eat.
  • 1 in 4 children, almost 40,000 children, are considered food insecure.


  • North Carolina currently ranks 14th in the nation for its high rate of poverty.
  • 1 in 7 North Carolinians live in poverty of with income below $24,600 for a family of 4.
  • 1 in 5 children live in poverty.
  • Women are 20% more likely to experience poverty than men.
  • Women of color are more than twice as likely to experience poverty than white men.
  • Children of color are nearly three times as likely to experience poverty as white children.
  • 1 in 10 older North Carolina residents live in poverty far below the state average.
  • Top 29% of earners in the state account for more than 50 percent of earned income.
  • 34% of North Carolinians are considered low income.
  • A concentrated poverty neighborhood is one where 40% of more of residents live at or below the poverty level.
  • Between 2000 and 2016, the number of concentrated poverty neighborhoods grew 300% across the state.
  • The number of concentrated poverty neighborhoods in Charlotte doubled from 4 to 8. More low-income white families now live in concentrated poverty neighborhoods.
  • Living Income Standard
  • For a NC family of four to afford rent, transportation, child care, food, health care and other expenses, they will need to earn almost $53,000/year. Doesn’t include entertainment, meals eaten outside the home, cable television, costs for extracurricular school activities and gifts. The food budget is based on a thrifty food plan developed by the USDA which assumes families cook every meal at home and buy in bulk.
  • People of color are twice as likely to live below the Living Income Standard.
  • 1 in 8 families lives below the Living Income Standard.
  • 59% of the people living below the Living Income Standard in NC are women.

The 2019 County Snapshots should be available any day!  Keep checking the website,

Meeting Minutes 4/4

Meeting Notes 3/7/2019 and 2/7/2019

Upcoming Meetings

First Thursday of the month at St. John’s Baptist Church-300 Hawthorne Lane. Email for details.

June 6, 2019 – Donnetta Collier, Self-Help
July 11, 2019- Tom Hanchett, Charlotte Historian
August 1, 2019-TBA
September 5, 2019-TBA
October 3, 2019 -TBA

Please join us on Thursday, June 6th, when Donnetta Collier from Self-Help CDC will talk us to about the past and future of Grier Heights, one of Charlotte’s most historical black neighborhoods.  Donnetta will  share information about current housing initiatives, including Self-Help CDC, which work with home buyers seeking equity who are ready to put down roots in the community.

November 7, 2019 -TBA
December 5, 2019 -TBA


Opportunity is knocking.

We have an opportunity. We cannot sit back and do nothing because we are turned off by the prejudice and oppression dominating politics and media.  We must push back.  We must push back for the working women earning 81% of the wages earned by their male counterparts. We must push back for the 13 million children, the 5 million seniors, and the 1+ million veterans living in poverty and at risk of hunger across our country. We must push back for the 40 million women in the U.S. who delay or forego healthcare to pay for food, rent, utilities or childcare.  We must push back for the people of color whose net worth averages 1/10th of that of whites. We. Must. Push. Back.

Compared to the depressions, wars, disasters and revolutions survived by previous generations, our price for liberty and justice for all is affordable.  We do not need to flee our birthland, deny our bloodlines or abandon our families.  We only need to demonstrate compassion, neutralize meanspirited rhetoric with good judgment and act based on what we know is fair and right.  Giving rights and opportunities to others does not mean that we will have less.  Acknowledging that we need to pursue equity in the standard of living is the first step towards a higher level of collective good for everyone.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “All we have to fear is fear itself. . . “ I can honestly say that my worst decisions, my most regrettable moments, the times in my life when I most needed a do-over were the results of decisions made from fear. Fear is a prevalent emotion today. People fear what they don’t know, what they are afraid others might do, what they are going to lose, what they are going to be responsible for, who their neighbors might be, how much tax they will owe— There are no good outcomes from fear.  Some will say that fear makes you prepare for what could happen.  I have found that fear appeals to my worst self.  My brain cells stop accepting new information and drown in negativity until I almost make myself ill. The decisions I make from fear bring about the circumstances I fear most.

Stop listening to the “cannot’ s” and “might’s” and begin thinking and speaking in terms of “can” and “will”. An opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. This is an opportunity.  As Warren Buffet said, we can stand in the shade now because a long time ago, someone thought to plant a tree.  Our children’s children will have healthier, safer, smarter, happier lives because of the actions we take now.  Did you know that if we initiate efforts in gender wage equity today, at the current rate we are effecting change, women will come close to equal pay for equal work by 2059?

Let’s not waste time!  How will you take advantage of this opportunity?  Will you support efforts for affordable healthcare?  Will you promote gender equity in business?  Will you lobby lawmakers to support the safety net that WIC and SNAP provide to low income families?  Will you advocate for affordable housing?  There are easy ways to take action.  How about mentoring a child in a high poverty school?  Volunteering at a food pantry?  Sharing financial expertise at a crisis counseling center?  How will you take advantage of this opportunity?

The New Math of Poverty: When It Doesn’t Add Up Like It Should.


May 23, 2019
5:30pm - 7:30pm
Building Equitable Cities with Henry Cisneros
May 30, 2019
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Dine Like You Give a D--n! to benefit The Bulb
June 6, 2019
7:00pm - 8:30pm
Community Discussion: Affordable Housing and Economic Disparity
June 27, 2019
7:00pm - 8:30pm
Ralphine Caldwell ED LISC