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Charlotte Talks: Is The American Dream Attainable In Charlotte? It Depends On Where You Live.

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Flickr/David Sawyer https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Is fixing our city’s upward mobility challenge really possible? Harvard University researchers think so and one of them will make that case.

As the 2020 presidential campaign has unfolded, we’ve heard a lot about people struggling to achieve the American Dream. Some believe achieving it is no longer possible in today’s economy.

Charlotte is on a first-name basis with this problem. We finished dead last among other cities for upward mobility for those in poverty in a survey published six years ago. It shocked us. Trouble is, with segregation, income inequality, a lack of affordable housing and job opportunities, fixing the problem is daunting.

But the data-minded folks behind the Harvard study revealing our deficiencies used the same approach to find a solution. They say we can fix this problem and one of those researchers tells us how.

Related: WFAE's Finding Home series is following Charlotte's affordable housing crisis.

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Credit Opportunity Insights
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David Williams, Policy Director at Opportunity Insights

Guest

David Williams, Policy Director at Opportunity Insights, a research and public policy lab based at Harvard University dedicated to using big data to improve upward mobility in America.

Related event:

David Williams will be in Charlotte on Tuesday, March 10, 6-8 p.m. at the Dale Halton Theater on CPCC’s campus for Building Futures: a Symposium on Affordable Housing on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region.

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Credit THE OPPORTUNITY ATLAS
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This map, a screenshot from The Opportunity Atlas, shows household income in 2014-2015 for people born between 1978 and 1983 to low-income parents. In areas that are more red, people who grew up in low-income households tended to stay low-income.

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Credit THE OPPORTUNITY ATLAS
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This map shows household income in 2014-2015 for African-Americans born between 1978 and 1983 to low-income parents. In some Charlotte neighborhoods, blacks who grew up in low-income households tended to stay low-income.

Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.