Discussions of poverty and its impact in Charlotte-Mecklenburg often uncover a few myths and misconceptions about who is affected, how they are affected, and how the needs of struggling neighbors are (or are not) met equitably.
Crisis Assistance Ministry is committed to educating and empowering the community to advocate for low-income families. Each month, we compile relevant topics that show up in social media and community discussions.
True or False: Affordable housing is a low-income issue.
Charlotte’s rapidly rising rents and stagnant wages1 mean that people at all income levels can struggle to find affordable housing here.
In fact, 44% of renters in Mecklenburg County are cost-burdened2, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities.
Consider this: The yearly area median income (AMI) for our region is $51,900 for an individual3. In order to live in affordable housing, the average Charlotte earner can afford a monthly maximum of $1,297. With Charlotte’s average monthly rent of $1,1424 only $122 remains for utilities before housing becomes unaffordable.
1 “This Report Shows Why So Many People Struggle to Afford Housing in Charlotte”, Charlotte Observer, June 5, 2018
2 2019 State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report, September 2019
3 2018 Median Family Income for the Metropolitan Statistical Area: Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill
4 “Rent in Charlotte Has Hit a New High. Here’s the average, and Where it Costs the Most”, Charlotte Observer, March 13, 2018
True or False: Hispanics experience poverty at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.
Native Americans have the nation’s highest poverty rate at 25.4%.
How is poverty officially measured in the United States?
It starts with the cost of food.
While it may not seem logical, the official poverty measure in the United States is a threshold based on the amount of money needed to buy the lowest-cost nutritionally adequate diet for the family size and multiplying that number by 3.
The Supplemental Poverty Measure, an alternative measure designed to address limitations in the traditional method, has been tracked by the federal government since 2011. It considers the amount of money needed to provide basic housing, clothing, food, and utilities, adjusted by the consumer price index, and accounting for the number of people in the family.
But the nation’s poverty rate continues to be determined by the official poverty measure. Want to know more? Check out the Census Bureau’s blog, What is the Supplemental Poverty Measure and How Does it Differ from the Official Measure?