SOCIAL WELL-BEING

Jul 22, 2020
Last week’s blog post provided an in-depth look at the key findings from The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report, which was released on July 9. The new report integrates data from multiple sources to describe child and youth homelessness and service utilization patterns in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The first blog post in the series covering different aspects of the integrated data report provided context about the the report, including how integrated data can help communities to understand and address complex issues like housing and homelessness.
Jul 15, 2020
Last week’s blog post featured the release of The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report, which integrates data from multiple sources to describe child and youth homelessness and service utilization patterns in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The blog post provided context about the the report, including how integrated data can help communities to understand and address complex issues like housing and homelessness.
Jul 08, 2020
There are thousands of children and youth in households every year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg that access housing or housing-related services as a result of their experience of homelessness and/or housing instability. However, these services and the data collected by them, are not linked. This means that describing child and youth homelessness using one data source provides only a sliver of the overall picture. Using multiple data sources can be helpful, but if these sources are not linked, they merely line up uneven comparisons.
Jun 15, 2020
Most efforts to increase economic stability operate under the assumption that helping individuals increase one key asset will eliminate wealth disparities. Educational attainment, long seen as the surest path to equality, is a great example. Education broadens career choices, enhances specialized skills, and raises earnings. But the value of an education —  and specifically its impact on household wealth — varies considerably across racial and ethnic groups.  The data are clear: obtaining a college degree is not enough to close the racial wealth gap.
Jun 05, 2020
Wealth serves as a buffer through economic downturns, job loss, and other unexpected emergencies such the COVID-19 pandemic. In Charlotte, households of color are more than twice as likely to lack sufficient savings or assets that can be used to pay for basic needs for three months without income when compared to White households. The result: almost half of all Latinx and 44% of Black households wouldn’t be able to cover basic needs after three months. 
Jun 04, 2020
We who write about cities are quick to make predictions. Some will prove prescient. Some won’t. But nobody really knows. Cities aren’t all alike. New York’s texture, way of life and pandemic experience are not Charlotte’s, or Houston’s, or Seattle’s. And this: We humans have a long history of behaving both predictably and unpredictably.
Jun 01, 2020
In Mecklenburg County, business ownership rates are proportionate to the racial and ethnic makeup of the county. But disparities persist: Although ownership is demographically proportionate, the majority of the economic value of business ownership is held in a small number of White-owned businesses. 
May 19, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has generated a flood of data, maps and other resources to track the spread — and places to get help — throughout the region. Many of these resources are scattered across different websites and dashboards. Here’s a brief summary of what’s available, collected in one place. We will update this list as the pandemic goes on.
May 18, 2020
Home ownership is one of the key strategies to close the racial wealth gap. A home is where households see gains in equity (market value of home minus any liens attached to property)  and is typically the largest asset Americans hold, regardless of race or ethnicity.  But Black and Latinx households have considerably less equity in their homes than White and Asian households. As Richard Rothstein says in The Color of Law, “A home is one of the only assets where the race of the owner affects the rate of return.”
May 13, 2020
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, news headlines have called attention to both “essential workers” in the food system, such as farmworkers and grocery store employees, and extensive job losses for food system workers, primarily in retail and restaurants. There are requests for contributions to virtual tip jars and for customers to buy gift cards from small businesses alongside fears of food chain disruptions, empty grocery shelves, and virus exposure while shopping. All of this highlights the often invisible precarity of essential workers in the US food system — and the precariousness of the food system itself.
May 12, 2020
Wealth is more than money. While simply defined as the net amount of assets over liabilities, wealth functions in more expansive ways. It opens doors to homeownership, no-debt or low-debt education, business ownership, and the ability to weather personal and national emergencies.  These opportunities and the racial wealth gap that locks some groups out — White households in the United States have 10 times the wealth of Black households and 7 times the wealth of Latinx households — have historical policy roots.
May 11, 2020
The novel coronavirus, better known as COVID-19, has changed the world as we know it. This holds true for the field of education, particularly K-12 schools in North Carolina and across the U.S. COVID-19 has exposed some glaring educational inequities that were present before the pandemic, but in many ways have been amplified during this crisis. As a result, I provide four major educational inequities that have directly impacted the most vulnerable K-12 students’ ability to learn and reach various educational academic achievement metrics.
May 06, 2020
In the United States, White households have 10 times the wealth of Black households and 7 times the wealth of Latinx households.This has not occurred by mere happenstance. Wealth is built through a combination of pathways, each with its own history of policy and practice.  The consequences enhance or hinder asset building across racial and ethnic groups. The systemic patterns of racial inequity that lead to such stark differences in wealth accumulation are the same well-worn paths that lead to unequal outcomes in labor, housing, education, and health.
May 05, 2020
What are the gendered implications of COVID-19 for women doing the work that keeps many of us alive? At the front lines of this pandemic, women are overburdened,  an unseen labor force that keeps the country running and takes care of those most in need whether or not there is a pandemic. These women are underpaid and undervalued, they are the essential workers, and they are more at-risk for intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation. And the most striking implication is that we are exposing women to COVID-19, in some cases killing them, even as they are trying to save us.
May 04, 2020
Who used to live in your house? When was your neighborhood built? Was your subdivision legally segregated? How’d your street get its name?
Apr 21, 2020
Encouraging people to stay home, avoid non-essential outings is the main strategy to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, for those facing family violence, home can be anything but safe.  Advocates across the country are concerned about an increase in domestic violence and child abuse incidents, with schools closed and  families stuck at home.
Apr 20, 2020
Whether you have more time on your hands without a daily commute or you’re looking for something to read that’s not about the novel coronavirus, the new release of a classic book about Charlotte will shed light on the city’s inequalities. 
Apr 16, 2020
Students lose 20% to 30% of their school year learning gains over the summer and research has found that students of color, students with disabilities and those from low income families experience greater summer learning loss than their peers — and now, the coronavirus pandemic threatens to compound these losses.
Apr 14, 2020
The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the city of Charlotte are collecting stories to learn what you and your neighbors are seeing and to celebrate the efforts underway by people pulling together that are getting us through this unprecedented time. 
Apr 06, 2020
Mecklenburg County leaders are trying to find solutions for a worsening food crisis in the county’s poorest neighborhoods. Nearly 15 percent of the county’s population lives in what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls food deserts — low-income communities where most residents don’t have access to a full-service grocery store or supermarket carrying nutritious food. That figure exceeds the national average of 11 percent and North Carolina’s statewide average of 13 percent.
Mar 30, 2020
The coronavirus crisis is growing across North Carolina, with a statewide stay-at-home order going into effect Monday, but the effects could be felt differently from place to place. 
Mar 23, 2020
If there has ever been an object lesson on why housing matters and why we must prioritize providing it for people who don’t have a place to live, this latest crisis should teach us. Charlotte’s homeless population is at particular risk as we collectively adjust to COVID-19.  Work to end homelessness takes on new urgency in a pandemic, for reasons of both personal and community safety. The lack of housing makes social distancing difficult, if not impossible. Many individuals experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable to the virus because of high rates of underlying health conditions. A growing number of homeless individuals are over the age of 60. Simple necessities to maintain hygiene and prevent the spread of any infection are not regularly available (it’s hard to wash your hands for 20 seconds if you don’t have a sink). 
Mar 23, 2020
The 2020 Census is crucial for making policy, assigning Congressional seats and divvying up resources for the decade to come, but it’s one of the many institutions facing a big challenge from the coronavirus. Census response forms were sent nationwide last week, inviting people to respond online. People who respond online, over the phone or via mail  won’t get a knock on their door from a Census worker — an especially important consideration in a time of pandemic.
Mar 02, 2020
Ads have been running for months, streets are blanketed with yard signs and North Carolinians have cast early ballots, but with Super Tuesday this week, the presidential election officially kicks into high gear locally.  But how many of us will actually turn out to vote? It turns out that the answer depends a lot on where you live. Like patterns of race, income, education and even average lifespan in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, you can see clear geographical differences. 
Jan 27, 2020
Naeema Muhammad, organizing co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, will speak on campus this week at UNC Charlotte.  Muhammad's work includes a focus on promoting health and equality for people around issues of air quality, water quality, coal ash, fracking...
Jan 08, 2020
A new, mixed-income housing development is set to take the place of a long-troubled, low-income housing complex in South End.  Brookhill Village is a paradox: An oasis of affordability in the midst of a booming and fast-gentrifying part of the city, but full of run-down units, many of them boarded up and visibly decaying from the street. Developed in the 1950s by the late C.D. Spangler, a wealthy Charlotte businessman, the complex of one-story buildings occupies 36 acres. Less than two miles away, uptown’s skyline glitters on the horizon.
Dec 02, 2019
From her porch in booming Fort Mill, S.C., Barbara Mackey can point out three houses where neighbors who love her live. One takes her to church every Sunday morning. Another trims her hedges and mows her grass. A third chauffeurs her around town whenever she needs to run errands. “Here, everybody knows everybody,” says Mackey, 77.  Since she was 14, Mackey’s lived here in Paradise, a historic, predominantly black neighborhood just outside downtown Fort Mill off busy S.C. 160. Comprised of streets named after prominent African Americans, Paradise seems like its own island in this bustling Charlotte suburb.
Oct 21, 2019
Where the hard rock of the Piedmont gives way to the sandy Coastal Plain, two company towns that lost their companies are looking for economic revival to the rivers that put them on the map. Great Falls in South Carolina and Badin in North Carolina grew up along the geologic fall line beside wild, majestic stretches of whitewater that entrepreneurs harnessed for electricity and for industry, a quintessential American story retold up and down the East Coast in the early 1900s. Now, years after the textile mills in Great Falls quit spinning on the Catawba River and the aluminum smelter in Badin shut its furnaces on the Yadkin, both towns hope to reinvent themselves with a new kind of industry: ecotourism.
Oct 14, 2019
The narrative around rural areas has often held that people need to leave for a better chance to find success, typically in the city. But for many, leaving the place they love and call home never really feels like an option. Here are seven stories of people who are turning that narrative on its head. 
Oct 08, 2019
Natural aesthetic appeal, increased economic vitality, a reason to leave your car behind, a walking and biking connection between communities in two states: Organizers hope to deliver all of that, and more, through the growing Carolina Thread Trail network of greenways, waterways and trails.
Oct 07, 2019
With the textile industry in steep decline and Forbes magazine ranking Shelby among America’s most vulnerable cities, a task force set out to see what other towns and cities in similar distress had done to pump energy into their downtowns and draw out-of-towners.  They landed on an idea to fully embrace Cleveland County’s musical legacy and celebrate the global fame of two native sons.
Sep 30, 2019
Charitable giving is an invisible thread binding people and communities together across the 32-county Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection study region — but how much people give, and what resources are available, varies from place to place. 
Sep 30, 2019
New data on the Quality of Life Explorer mapping tool paint a picture of how demographics are changing across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, as well as other measures such as bicycle friendliness, voter participation and average water consumption.
Sep 26, 2019
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are still facing a large gap between the supply of affordable housing and the number of residents who need it, as inreasing rents and a tight housing market are squeezing more families’ budgets and putting them at risk of housing instability, evicion and homelessness. 
Sep 23, 2019
The UNC Charlotte Public Policy Program, in Partnership with Gerald G. Fox Masters of Public Administration Program and the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, will hold its 2nd annual Talking Policy in the Queen City event on October 2nd from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Center City campus.
Aug 28, 2019
Today it’s hard for many, especially newcomers, to imagine Charlotte’s interdependency with the small towns and rural communities surrounding Mecklenburg County.  But Charlotte’s emergence as a New South city was the result of a manufacturing economy established throughout the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  That economy was mostly built on textiles, with its concentration not in the urban core (as was the case with Pittsburgh’s steel industry or Detroit’s auto sector), but in small towns scattered throughout the Carolina Piedmont – where brick textile mills were built along the banks of the South Fork River in Gaston County and the Great Falls of the Catawba in South Carolina, and along the rail lines that stretched in every direction to places like Kannapolis and Hamlet.
Aug 19, 2019
Ronald Rael gained national attention this summer for installing teeter-totters through the U.S.-Mexico border fence, allowing children on either side to play, but the architect and designer has been studying borders, walls and their meaning for much longer. 
Jul 22, 2019
You probably have never heard of John Lawson. Scott Huler aims to change that. Lawson was an Englishman and explorer who, over two months in late 1700 and early 1701, traveled almost 600 miles through the Carolinas, including through what’s now Charlotte. His book, A New Voyage to Carolina, recorded the terrain, plants and people he found. It was, as Huler writes, one of the most important early books to emerge from the colonial South.    
Jul 09, 2019
Sharp differences in race and income are visible on a map of Mecklenburg County, generally in the familiar “crescent and wedge” pattern many Charlotteans are familiar with.   But differences are also available in other, more unexpected dimensions as well. These five maps illustrate some of the biggest disparities: In people’s health. 
Jul 01, 2019
According to local Point-in-Time Count data, 77 percent of people experiencing homelessness in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care are black. American Community Survey data indicates that only 31 percent of the general population in Charlotte-Mecklenburg is black. This is just one of the major disparities in our local housing and homelessness statistics highlighed by a new tool.
Jun 20, 2019
Sometimes it can feel like the world is drowning in data: Big data, data mining, data science, data analytics and other buzzwords have become so familiar as to be cliches.  But the meeting last week of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, held in Milwaukee, was also full of reminders about the power of data to tell stories and inform decision-making. 
Jun 18, 2019
It’s happening across Charlotte: Apartments, office buildings and restaurants are popping up in parking lots, as dense, mixed-use developments, connected by bicycle paths and walking trails, invade suburbia. What’s driving the shift at some of the city’s most iconic suburban centers?
Jun 11, 2019
Tens of thousands of people a year are evicted in Mecklenburg County, but the full impact is often hard to see. Court data on evictions is often incomplete, accessible only in paper files, or difficult to compile and access. Demographic data on who is evicted, and for what reasons, is not comprehensively collected. A 2017 project by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and Mecklenburg County sought to change that. 
Jun 10, 2019
A UNC Charlotte professor used the integrated data system at the Institute for Social Capital, a part of the Urban Institute, to examine whether students of color are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system because they’re more disengaged from school. Her conclusion: “The way our kids are being processed in the system is affected by the color of their skin.”
Jun 03, 2019
Charlotte City Walks 2019 wrapped up after a record-setting year, with 40 walks and more than 600 attendees. The programs explored food, history, art, murals, the lived experiences of being blind or homeless in Charlotte, tree canopy and more.
Jun 03, 2019
The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute organized a record number of free walking and biking tours last month that highlighted the diversity of Charlotte neighborhoods. The 40 tours took place in neighborhoods such as University City, NoDa, Uptown, South End, Historic Wilmore, Cherry, Belmont, Plaza Midwood, McCrorey Heights, Biddlesville, Commonwealth-Morningside and Historic Camp Greene.
May 29, 2019
The Institute for Social Capital combines data from dozens of different agencies and provides a unique way for researchers to find connections and study problems, helping policymakers find solutions that work. 
May 28, 2019
It turns out you can see disparities on the map in Charlotte across way more dimensions than traditional measures like household income. 
May 28, 2019
As Charlotte grows denser and more urban, parts of the city built decades ago on an auto-centric, suburban framework are struggling to both absorb more traffic and adapt to new beliefs about how people should get around. A one-mile stretch of congested road in fast-growing University City illustrates the tensions between balancing the needs of cars and pedestrians, as well as local residents and commuters, in an area where the distinction between urban and suburban is starting to blur.
May 14, 2019
It’s a familiar story: A new transit line opens, spurring gentrification in nearby neighborhoods and pushing out long-time residents.  But is that always what happens? New research from UNC Charlotte suggests the story is more complicated.