In the News December 2 – December 16 

Housing Equity 

  1. For prospective Black homeowners, it’s “harder to catch up” in Charlotte: Charlotte’s population is growing rapidly but Black homeownership lags behind.  The homeownership rate among white households in Mecklenburg County is 68%, compared to 43% for Black households. 
  1. Vanishing Land: Climate Change Displaces Black Families Along Gullah-Geechee Corridor: Brunswick County is a microcosm of the ways historically Black coastal communities that are being displaced by a combination of climate-related events, land loss and unaffordability. 
  1. Housing Costs Are Unbearable. How Renters and Homeowners Are Adjusting: Over the last few decades, wages haven’t kept up with soaring rent growth, leading to an increase in cost-burdened renters across the country who are cutting costs on food and health care. Material hardship is greatest for Black and Latino households, families with children, and individuals on fixed incomes or out of the labor force. 
  1. Voters embraced affordable housing initiatives. Advocates say Congress should do the same: Bond referenda successes in Buncombe County and Charlotte are seen as emblematic of growing national support for affordable housing. 
  1. City of Raleigh Launches North Carolina’s First ADU Gallery: This new program will make constructing an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) a more accessible process for Raleigh homeowners and provide more affordable rental units and units for older or disabled individuals. 

Health Equity 

  1. NC providers, advocates to try again for legislative action to improve maternal health and birth outcomes: State legislators will soon get another look at a plan aimed at improving maternal health in North Carolina, with a request to provide better pay to health care workers who provide maternity services to people enrolled in Medicaid, reimburse for doula services, and increase payments to providers of group prenatal care.  
  1. Plans underway to chart a more sustainable path for Chatham Maternity Care Center: In a move that prevents the creation of another “maternity care desert” in the state, UNC Health executives will implement recommends by a community task force including building and maintaining strong relationships with local community colleges and offering childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn and postpartum classes. 
  1. US workers sue Georgia for transgender healthcare discrimination: Three employees call for Georgia’s state health insurance to cover gender-confirming healthcare and other procedures. “The exclusion not only harms the health and finances of transgender people seeking gender dysphoria treatment, it also reinforces the stigma attached to being transgender” the lawsuit argues. 
  1. NCDHHS to provide eligible North Carolina public schools with free mental and behavioral health training and support: North Carolina Psychiatry Access Line (NC-PAL) will start providing mental and behavioral health training and support to participating school administrators and counselors in 130 public schools around North Carolina.  The initiative comes as children are experiencing dramatic increases in pandemic-related behavioral health issues. 
  1. Chief health equity officers are growing more common. But experts say companies need to empower them: A string of high-profile health companies like Teladoc and CVSHealth have hired their first chief health equity officers this year but the people in these prominent positions say they’re still defining the role and fighting for buy-in. 

Economic Opportunity 

  1. Rural Transformation Grants Awarded to Boost Local Economies: Governor Roy Cooper announced today that 42 local governments in rural areas across the state have been awarded grants from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, supporting rural economic development projects in North Carolina. 
  1. Guilford County Welcomes New Minority/Women Business Enterprise Program Director: Guilford County announced the selection of Shaunne Thomas as the new Director of the Minority/Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program. The county’s MWBE program provides minority- and women-owned businesses equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of Guilford County’s contracting and purchasing programs. 
  1. Look Ahead Cumberland: Fayetteville City Council to hold hearings on funding for mixed-income housing and minority-owned businesses. City staff to announce initial plans for $97 million in bonds passed by voters: The Fayetteville City Council will hold two public hearings Monday on funding for mixed-income housing and minority-owned businesses. City staff members will announce initial plans for how they plan to use $97 million in bonds passed by voters in November. 
  1. SBA Business Disaster Loans for Hurricane Ian Available: Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to businesses and residents in South Carolina and parts of North Carolina (including Brunswick County) following the announcement of a Presidential disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian. 
  1. How Immigrants Can Shape the Solar Energy Industry: The U.S. needs roughly 650,000 more solar workers to meet the 2035 clean energy and climate change goals set by President Biden. But clean energy employers say they struggle to expand due to a lack of skilled, qualified workers. This gap presents opportunities for immigrants to utilize their talents and skills in the country’s growing renewable energy sector. 

Educational Equity 

  1. Monday numbers: The cost of higher education and economic value of community colleges: 65% of current college students said traditional higher education is no longer worth the cost to students, 68% among Black students and 71% among Latinx students. A new report commissioned by the American Association of Community Colleges suggests that community colleges are among the best values in higher education today. 
  1. Governor Cooper Highlights Investments in North Carolina’s Children, Families and Workforce: Today, Governor Roy Cooper toured the Wildflower Cottage for Children in Durham County to highlight the North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants that childcare centers across the state have received to support and retain the early educator workforce. 
  1. Harnessing linguistic diversity in North Carolina’s schools: In North Carolina there are more than 133,000 K-12 multilingual students. In order to serve these students, we must address the significant variation in the number of ESL specialists in schools, promote the seal of biliteracy for high school students, and identify students that have the protentional to grow ESL programs in the future. 
  1. NC schools still have an acute bus driver shortage. Who’s going to fix it?: Schools in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Wake County have had to cancel routes this year due to lack of drivers. While schools are raising pay and the number of trips per driver to cover routes, the shortage means lost class time for students and strain on parents that already struggle with transportation. 
  1. Action Map spotlights initiatives advancing accessible and high-quality education system: The map enables visitors to learn what counties initiatives are working in and how they’re centering racial equity and community voices. Initiatives include increased access to infant and toddler care, providing higher subsidy rates to providers in underserved communities, and adopting research-based standards for culturally-relevant teaching.