The federal government defines the poverty level as an income of $23,283 for a family of four, or $11,945 for an individual. In 2012, the overall poverty rate for North Carolina was 17.2 percent.

Persons living in poverty are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of extreme climate events. Much of this impact is due to increases in exposure. People with lower incomes are more likely to live in isolate rural areas, flood-prone areas, or urban areas with aging infrastructure and higher air pollution. People with lower incomes experience higher rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and COPD that people in higher income groups. People with lower incomes have less ability to cope with, respond to, or build resilience against extreme climate events.

  • As there are more days of extreme heat, the cost of air conditioning becomes an impossible burden as low income families are faced with choosing between air conditioning or food.
  • When citizens are displaced from flooding, people with lower incomes are disproportionately impacted through lost wages or an inability to locate and secure alternative housing.
  • People in lower income groups often rent their housing, and are thereby not insured properly to recover from property loss from severe weather events.
  • Many people with lower incomes live in inefficient housing, which results in higher utility bills during periods of extreme cold or extreme heat.
  • Low-income neighborhoods are often located near polluting industries, resulting in lower air quality and higher prevalence of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases or compromised water quality from water source pollution.
  • On a daily basis, people with lower income have less access to healthy food, either due to a lack of availability or affordability. These conditions are exacerbated during periods of extreme weather either through displacement or the interruption in access to full-service grocery stores.

Percent of Population Living in Poverty

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