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poor boyThe US census bureau released county level poverty statistics on January 9th.  The release was little more than a blip in news reporting and was boiled down to a slightly elevated statewide NC poverty rate of 14.9% based on 2005 census numbers.  This compares with the national average  of 13.3% and the prior year NC average of 13.8%.  For 2005 the poverty threshold for a family of 4 was an income of $19,806.

This was not news and has been known for some time.  What is not widely known is that child poverty rates are even higher.  State child advocates like Action for Children keep a close eye on these statistics and know already that 20.8% of the NC population under 18 lives in poverty (based on 2005 census numbers).  23.3% of children under 5, and 19.3% of school age children (5-17) in NC live in poverty up from 21.5% and 16.9% in the prior year.

The numbers are even more pronounced at the county level.  60 of North Carolina's 100 counties have a poverty rate for school age children above the state average of 19.3%.  In 28 of those counties the poverty rate is at least 25% and in 14 counties the rate is at least 30% among school age children.  It tops out (or bottoms out) at 40.6% of school age children in Robeson County.

40.6% Robeson
40.3% Halifax
36.5% Tyrrell
36.1% Edgecombe
34.7% Washington
33.8% Bladen
33.6% Northampton
33.0% Columbus
32.6% Warren
32.2% Bertie
32.2% Richmond
32.0% Scotland
30.3% Hertford
30.0% Vance

In Robeson County this represents 10,300 school age children living in poverty.  In Cumberland county the rate is 25.2% and represents 15,310 living in poverty.  By comparison Guilford County has 15,064 school age children living in poverty and the rate is 20.0%. Mecklenburg has 22,570 with a rate of 15.9% while Wake has 15,139 or an average rate of 11.4%.

Statistics can be obfuscating but what is clear is that in North Carolina at least 287,894 school age children plus 138,820 children under 5  live in poverty and that the distribution of these children and the resources to meet their needs are uneven across the state.

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When your gas tank hits empty it usually means you have about 8% of your tank capacity left, enough to get you to a gas station allowing for a few diversions. If you kept your tank at "empty" all the time you couldn't get very far without totally running out of fuel and couldn't take care of much business. It would be imprudent. Even cash strapped drivers put an extra $5 or $10 worth of gas in the tank to make sure there's a cushion to get to work, take care of the kids and, run errands.

The John Locke Foundation wants North Carolina counties to run on empty. Read More

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fake grassrootsFaced with a drought of public support for its high profile opposition to the transfer tax the NC Association of Realtors (NCAR) has replaced the withered remains of the "Stop The NC Home Tax" website. With newly installed Astroturf at the same address called "Vote No on the Home Tax" hoping to fool county voters into thinking it is a real grassroots movement the website has scrubbed all references to NCAR. In its place is a roster of newly formed "Local Committees" to provide cover for the real involvement of the realtors' group.

Swain County Property Owners Against the Transfer Tax
Macon County Citizens Against the Transfer Tax
Graham County Citizens Against the Transfer Tax
Rutherford County Property Owners Against the Transfer Tax
Henderson County Coalition to Protect Home Equity
Union County Coalition Against the Home Tax
Davie County Coalition Against a New Home Tax
Chatham County Coalition for Homeownership
Moore County Coalition For Good Government
Hoke County Citizens to Protect Homeownership
Harnett County Citizens Against the Home Tax
Johnston County Property Owners Against Transfer Taxes
Pender County Coalition to Protect the American Dream
Committee of Concerned Brunswick County Property Owners
Washington County Landowners Against the Transfer Tax
Gates County Citizens Against Higher Taxes

Voters in Chatham County have been scratching their heads over robo-calls from a hereto unknown group called Chatham County Coalition for Homeownership. Meanwhile Brunswick County voters are slowly finding out that the Committee of Concerned Brunswick County Property Owners is an organization of realtors, homebuilders and, mortgage brokers headed by Steve Candler, governmental affairs director for the Brunswick County Association of Realtors.

I miss Angie already. Don't get burned skidding on the Astroturf.

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Food Stamp FamilyLess than half of the people in North Carolina eligible for food stamps are receiving them according to study by the National Priorities Project . The participation rate for eligible low-income people in NC is 47.1% compared to a national average of 50.2% among state participation rates which range from a high of 71.8% in the District of Columbia to a low of 32.3% in Nevada. Nationally:

Half of all low-income people did not receive Food Stamp Program benefits.

Counties with lower poverty rates and higher median household incomes had lower percentages of low-income people that were Food Stamp recipients.

A significant number of counties, 13.2 percent, had below-average percentages of Food Stamps, yet had above-average poverty rates.

The rural South had the highest percentage of enrollment in the Food Stamp program and more than half of all children were eligible for lunches through the National School Lunch Program.

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Get ready to hear these terms more often if realtors' and homebuilders' efforts to defeat a local transfer tax option are successful. The most immediate impact of success in their statewide campaign to sideline your vote on a local transfer tax option will be pressure to increase county property tax and sales tax. Whatever number of North Carolinians oppose a transfer tax, a large majority is bound to oppose increases in property or sales tax. This will leave homebuilders in the cross hairs for funding of schools and infrastructure associated with growth.

An APFO is an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, a growth management mechanism that can be locally enacted.

It is designed to prevent a community’s growth from outpacing the local government’s ability to provide necessary public facilities to serve that growth. Read More