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by Delaney Sullivan | Opinion

Orange County, North Carolina is home to many impressive things: UNC-Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street, historic Hillsborough, hospitals and doctor’s offices that rival the best of the best, and so much more. With all the glamor, though, comes some gore.

chapelhillpovertyIn 2014, Orange County had an average income per household of $57, 261, making it the wealthiest county in the state, but it’s also one of the poorest.

In 2012, 16.9 percent of Orange County residents lived below the poverty line, and in Chapel Hill, specifically, 22.1 percent of residents lived below the poverty line. In 2013, it rose to 23.3 percent and the poverty rate among young adults, aged 18-24, and including students, is steadily increasing.

There is a belief that Orange County is one of the poorest in the state because it’s the wealthiest.

How? It has everything, from good to bad, hospitals, parks and colleges and universities, so no one donates to the county that ‘has it all.’ Aaron Nelson, secretary of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and former UNC-Chapel Hill student body president, has called this “Chapel Hill Syndrome.”

“[We] forget to reinvest and take a look under the rocks on what’s going on in our community with respect to poverty, particularly children in poverty,” said Nelson in a 2013 report. In Chapel Hill, in 2013, 93.4 percent of renters made an income below the poverty line, for an individual, of $12,071.

Here’s another bit of news that might not be so shocking: Orange County males made an average of 1.8 times what females made in 2014 and the wages are distributed less evenly throughout sexes, races, and ethnicities.

Mostly everyone wishes he or she could do something to end the poverty at home and away, but it’s not an overnight solution. One of the key ways to alleviate poverty in a local area is to be sure that people know about it. Raising awareness is always one of the best things to do to help the people living in a situation that you can’t necessarily aid hand-on.