COVID Relief Act $600 Stimulus Payments: General FAQs

*Originally posted on Dec. 30th, 2020. Updated Jan. 8th, 2021*

In late December, lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package that provides essential economic relief for millions of workers and people with low incomes. One component of the package is a second round of economic stimulus payments. See below for general FAQs regarding the payment. Additionally, we have FAQs regarding “Mixed-Immigration Status Families and the Stimulus Payment,” “Distribution of the Second Stimulus Payment,” and “How to Claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.”

Who is eligible for the second stimulus payment?

Generally, if you’re a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien, you may be eligible for $600 ($1,200 for a joint return), plus $600 for each qualifying child, if you (and your spouse if filing a joint return) aren’t a dependent of another taxpayer on a 2019 tax return, have a social security number (SSN) valid for employment (see exception when married filing joint) and your adjusted gross income (AGI) does not exceed:

  • $150,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower;
  • $112,500 if filing as head of household; or
  • $75,000 for eligible individuals using any other filing status
  • Your payment will be reduced by 5% of the amount by which your AGI exceeds the applicable threshold above.

You aren’t eligible for a payment if any of the following apply to you:

  • You were claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s 2019 tax return (for example, a child or student who may be claimed on a parent’s tax return or a dependent parent who may be claimed on an adult child’s tax return).
  • You don’t have a Social Security number that is valid for employment issued before the due date of your 2019 tax return (including any extensions).
  • You’re a nonresident alien.
  • People who died before 2020.
  • Are an estate or trust.

What is meant by a Social Security number that is valid for employment?

A valid Social Security number for the second stimulus payment is one that is valid for employment in the United States and is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) before the due date of your 2019 tax return (including the filing deadline postponement to July 15 and an extension to October 15 if you requested it).

If you were a U.S. citizen when you received the Social Security number, then it’s valid for employment. If “Not Valid for Employment” is printed on your Social Security card and your immigration status has changed so that you are now a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, ask the SSA for a new Social Security card. However, if “Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization” is printed on your Social Security card, you have the required Social Security number only if the Department of Homeland Security authorization is valid.

How much will the second stimulus payment be?

The second stimulus payment will be $600 per qualifying adult ($1,200 for married taxpayers filing a joint return) and $600 per child under 17 years old. Children who are 17 years old and older as well as other dependents are not eligible for the $600 second stimulus payment.

What do I need to do to get my payment?

No action is necessary. Your payment will be issued based on the information the IRS has on file for your 2019 tax return, the information provided by you to the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, payment information entered on the Get My Payment tool, or information provided by a Federal Agency that issued benefits to you (Social Security Administration, Veteran Affairs, or Railroad Retirement Board). (If you don’t get a payment and you are eligible to receive one, it may be claimed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.)

Will the Non-Filers tool be available if I’m not required to file and didn’t use it before November 22, 2020?

No. The Non-Filers tool is no longer available. (If you are eligible for a second stimulus payment and don’t get one, the payment may be claimed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.)

What tax year will the IRS look to in determining my eligibility for the second stimulus payment?

The IRS will look to the 2019 tax year to make eligibility determinations for the second stimulus payment.

Will I need to pay the second stimulus payment back to the IRS at some point and will the payment affect my eligibility for other tax credits?

You will not need to pay the second stimulus payment back to the IRS because the payments are an advance against a new credit for tax year 2020 and these payments will not affect your eligibility for other tax credits.

I’m a college student, can I receive the $600 second stimulus payment if I can be claimed as someone else’s dependent?

You can’t receive the $600 second stimulus payment if you can be claimed as someone else’s dependent. You can be claimed as someone else’s dependent based on your relationship to the filer, your age, whether you lived with your parents for more than half of the year, and whether you were financially independent for more than half of the year, among other factors. This will affect many full-time college students under age 24. However, it’s important to review the rules, since not all college students are dependents. (People who were dependents in 2019, but not 2020, can claim both stimulus payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return.)

Do I need earned income to qualify for a second stimulus payment?

You don’t need to have earned income to qualify. The second stimulus payment is available to those with little to no income. Even if you are making $0, you can still receive the full payment. The second stimulus payments phase out at higher income levels, starting at $75,000 for single filers. The phase-out rates are the same between the first and second round of payments – $5 for every $100 that you made above the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit – but because the second stimulus payments are smaller, some people who received a partial payment in the first round won’t get one this time.

Will the second stimulus payment affect my eligibility for public benefits?

Like other tax refunds, the second stimulus payment will not count toward eligibility for means-tested programs and will be disregarded as an asset for 12 months. This means the second stimulus payment won’t jeopardize your participation in programs including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and public housing.

Is the second stimulus payment treated as taxable income?

No, the second stimulus payment is not considered taxable income.

Is an incarcerated individual eligible for the second stimulus payment?

Yes, individuals will not be denied a second stimulus payment solely because they are incarcerated.  An incarcerated individual may be issued a payment if all eligibility requirements are met and the individual filed a 2019 tax return that was processed by the IRS or used the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool prior to November 22, 2020. (Incarcerated individuals who don’t get a second stimulus payment and are eligible to receive one, may claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return. They can also claim the first stimulus payment as a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return.)

Can the second stimulus payment be intercepted?

The second stimulus payment can’t be intercepted for past-due taxes, student loans, Unemployment Insurance over-payments, or for child support that is owed (the first stimulus payment was subject to seizure for outstanding child support).

Where can I get more information?

For more information about Economic Impact Payments and the 2020 Recovery Rebate, key information will be posted on IRS.gov/eip. Later this week, you may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For other COVID-19-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/Coronavirus.

New COVID-19 relief act signed. Aid extended to millions.

On December 22nd congress passed the most recent COVID-19 relief package. The act provides $908 billion dollars in aid to families, businesses, nonprofits, and states. As we learn more about the act and how the programs and funding will be implemented, we will update our website and social media accordingly. Please contact us at the appropriate numbers below if you or your family are struggling and need assistance.  

This list is not exhaustive, and the bill contains programs and funding not listed here.  

Here is what we know so far: 

Unemployment Insurance

This act extends the CARES Act’s unemployment insurance expansion through March 14th, 2021. Specifically, this act:  

  • Provides an additional $300 per week to supplement all state and federal unemployment benefits, starting after December 26, 2020 and ending March 14, 2021 through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides continued unemployment assistance to the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, part-time workers and other individuals in non-traditional employment. It also increases the number of weeks of PUA benefits an individual may claim, from 39 to 50; 
  • Extends the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, providing additional weeks of federally-funded benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits. It also increases the weeks of PEUC benefits an individual may claim, from 13 to 24 and; 
  • Provides full federal financing of state Shared Work programs, allowing employees who are working reduced hours to claim partial unemployment compensation, through March 14, 2021. 

For FAQs about unemployment insurance click here. Apply for unemployment at the Department of Employment Security website or call 1-888-737-0259. If you have questions regarding your application or how the new relief bill affects your unemployment benefits, call our hotline 980-256-3979 and leave a message to receive assistance in English or Spanish. 

Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Checks) 

Critical financial support in the form of one-time direct payments of $600 is being made available for individuals making up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, as well as an extra $600 per eligible child dependent. We do not know if this amount will be increased. This is the same eligibility as the original $1,200 stimulus payment, but also expands these direct payments to mixed-status households, ensuring that millions of immigrant families across the U.S. get access to this relief. 

These payments will likely be distributed in a similar way as the $1,200 payments through direct deposit or check. Stay up to date with this information on the IRS website

Those who did not previously receive the original $1,200 stimulus check or received the incorrect amount may be able to receive it through a Recovery Rebate Credit when filing you 2020 tax return. Learn more here. 

If you have questions about the $600 economic impact payments or the recovery rebate credit, contact a tax advocate at: 980-202-7329  

Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance 

This act extends the CDC Eviction Moratorium through January 31st, 2021. Read more on how you can use the moratorium to prevent eviction here. 

An additional $25 billion will be distributed to existing local housing agencies that can best distribute these funds on behalf of tenants. It is unclear what organizations or programs this funding will go toward but can be used to pay past due rent, future rent payments and utility and energy expenses.  

The act provides $638 million to assist low-income families with drinking water and wastewater utility bills. This money will also be distributed via state and tribal governments. You can apply for utility assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or RAMP Charlotte. 

Nutritional and Food Assistance 

Millions of families across the country are struggling to put food on the table. This act addressed food insecurity by: 

  • Increasing monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for the next six months beginning January 1st, 2021 through June 30th, 2021. Unless there are other supplements, this increase will be added to the current maximum eligible monthly amount per family size;  
  • Excluding Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) from being counted as income for calculating eligibility and amount of SNAP benefits; 
  • Extending SNAP eligibility to college students who are eligible for a federal or state work study program or have an expected family contribution of $0 and; 
  • Improves the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (PEBT) program to school-age children and expands the program for children younger than six years old.  

If you need assistance with applying for SNAP, PEBT, or other public benefits, contact our Family Support and Healthcare Unit at 704-376-1600. 

Bankruptcy 

The act provides that consumers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases will not be denied a discharge if they miss 3 or fewer mortgage payments because of a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID–19. Consumers can have utility service maintained or restored after filing bankruptcy without paying a deposit. Also, consumers cannot be denied a mortgage forbearance under the CARES Act if they have filed bankruptcy or received a bankruptcy discharge. 

24,946 APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED FOR THE N.C. EXTRA CREDIT GRANT PROGRAM

Charlotte, N.C. – The organizers of 335forNC.com have delivered 24,946 submitted applications for the N.C. Extra Credit Grant program to North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR). Each approved application will result in a $335 check for an eligible family, distributing over $8M of aid for those in greatest need. The application period reopened last month after Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and its partners, Robinson Bradshaw and Legal Aid of North Carolina, took successful legal action to ensure families with the most need had time and access to complete the application. NCDOR will mail checks to eligible applicants by Dec. 30, 2020. (Anyone needing to know the status of their check should call NCDOR at 1-877-252-3052.) For more information, please visit the NCDOR website.

“The Extra Credit Grant program was a wonderful opportunity to provide desperately needed relief to struggling North Carolina families,” said Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy Executive Director Kenneth Schorr. 

Made possible by federal coronavirus relief funds, the N.C. Extra Credit Grant program was intended to help families offset the expense of educating and caring for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible middle- and high-income families received grants automatically through N.C. tax filings; however, many low-income families with annual incomes of $20,000 or less could only receive an Extra Credit Grant if they submitted an application to the NCDOR by Oct. 15, 2020. Robinson Bradshaw, on behalf of Legal Aid of North Carolina, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and several low-income families, filed a complaint which resulted in a court order on Nov. 5, 2020, that reopened and extended the application period. The 335forNC team worked quickly to create a secure and easily accessible online application which closed Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, at 2 p.m.

“I am proud of the fast and creative approach our team took to ensure that thousands of families got the relief they needed,” said Adam Doerr, an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw. 

Robinson Bradshaw is a Carolinas-based corporate law firm celebrating 60 years of providing comprehensive legal services to clients. Robinson Bradshaw represents businesses across the country ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Learn more at robinsonbradshaw.com.

Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Learn more at legalaidnc.org.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy can provide those in need with information, advice and advocacy in consumer protection, home preservation, health care access and public benefits, immigration, tax assistance and more. Our mission is to pursue justice for those in need. Our vision is to build a just community, where all people are treated fairly and have access to legal representation to meet their basic human needs of safety, economic security and stability. Learn more: charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

The Gift of a Second Chance

Javourya Winstead had several charges in her youth as a result of being, in her own words, “young and reckless.” Although these charges were from long ago, she still faced the collateral consequences of her past convictions.  

Javourya with her son

Criminal records significantly hinder social mobility, particularly for Black people and other communities of color. Expungement reduces the list of nonviolent offenses that will “flag” a criminal background check, which can automatically disqualify someone for a job. In addition to removing barriers to employment, research shows that expungement leads to increased wages and reduces recidivism—the possibility of someone receiving another charge or becoming re-incarcerated. 

 Eighty-five percent of our clients who seek expungements are Black. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is working toward eliminating the collateral consequences of the criminal justice system, giving people who deserve it a second chance, and ensuring individual’s past mistakes are not a substantial barrier to economic opportunity. With our systemic advocacy initiatives, Governor Cooper signed the Second Chance Act into law, which expands eligibility for N.C. residents to have nonviolent criminal offenses removed from their records through expunctions. 

Javourya felt that her past actions no longer reflected the person she is today: “In reality, everybody’s done something [wrong], whether you got caught or not; it’s the principle that I had to own up to it. I did it. And the only thing I can do is change.” She reached out to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy just to see if her record could be expunged: “I hesitated because I thought, ‘I don’t know if my record’s good enough.” To her surprise, it was.  

No longer burdened with past mistakes, Javourya “felt like the world lifted off my shoulders. . .  I’ve heard ‘no’ so much because of my record that it finally feels good to be able to say sooner or later I’m going to hear a ‘yes.’”  

With her record expunged, Javourya has been able to support herself and her three-year old son and is attending school for real estate this fall. She encourages others like herself to “just make that one phone call and talk to someone at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy because they are the professionals and know what they’re talking about. One mistake should not be a lifetime sentence.” 

Learn more about the Access To Justice Campaign here.

Justice for Lake Arbor Tenants Subjected to Dangerous Housing Conditions

The NC Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and the law firm of Robinson Bradshaw filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the former owners and property managers on behalf of class of Lake Arbor tenants who had paid rent during periods of time when serious Housing Code violations were left unrepaired in their units.

To read the Lake Arbor settlement agreement click here.

If you believe you are entitled to funds from the Lake Arbor settlement, please fill out this online form (English) (Spanish) or leave a voicemail at 704 376-1600 ext. 524.

Si usted piensa que tiene derecho a recibir fondos del avenimiento de Lake Arbor, por favor llene este formulario en línea (inglés)(español).

Charlotte (Dec. 9, 2020) – The former owners and managers of west Charlotte’s Lake Arbor Apartments agreed to pay $547,500, to settle litigation brought on behalf of a class of former tenants. The Charlotte Housing Inspector found the class of former tenants’ apartments to have dangerous conditions.

The North Carolina Justice Center, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and Robinson Bradshaw represented plaintiffs in the case against Lake Arbor Dean TIC LLC and Lake Arbor 80M TIC, LLC, as well as former property managers Broad Management Group, LLC and Wellington Advisors, LLC. The state Superior Court complaint alleged that the former Lake Arbor owners and property managers violated Charlotte’s Housing Code and North Carolina consumer protection laws between 2015 and 2019 when they improperly sought and collected rent from tenants living in Lake Arbor apartments found to have dangerous conditions. The complaint alleged that the Lake Arbor Apartments owners’ and property managers’ actions violated North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Unfair Debt Collections Act, and Residential Rental Agreements Act. The defendants denied those allegations and claimed that they did nothing wrong or illegal.

“These landlords kept taking the rent and taking the rent, all the while refusing to fix serious safety problems in tenants’ units, as found by the City,” said former Lake Arbor tenant and class plaintiff Serita Russell. “It’s about time they were called to account. I’m glad the lawsuit was settled, and I hope other landlords take this as a lesson on what happens when a landlord cares more about making money than the safety of its tenants.”

After the filing, Lake Arbor evicted all tenants rather than complete repairs. The defendants then sold the property to New York-based URS Capital Partners in April. This sequence of events exposed how dire Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis has become, leaving tenants vulnerable to displacement and homelessness just for exercising their rights to a safe and habitable place to live.

An important consequence of the litigation is that landlords in Charlotte will think twice about allowing dangerous conditions to persist at their properties.

“Landlords and property managers are legally obligated to keep units in a fit and habitable condition and make timely repairs of all violations noted by local housing inspectors,” said Julian Wright, an attorney at Robinson Bradshaw. “Continuing to collect rent while failing to make such repairs can itself violate the law, subjecting the landlords to the possibility of treble damages and attorneys’ fees.”

The North Carolina Justice Center is one of the state’s preeminent voices for economic and social justice. As a leading progressive research and advocacy organization, its mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services, and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security. For more information, visit www.ncjustice.org

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly Legal Services of Southern Piedmont) provides expert legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford it, but desperately need it, something the organization has been doing since its inception in 1967. The Advocacy Center serves more than 3,500 families each year who are facing a crisis of safety, shelter, health or income. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy provides committed advocacy work on behalf of clients, resulting in policy changes at the local and national level to impact a greater number of people. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is a champion for those in need, ensuring their safety, economic security and family stability. For more information, visit charlottelegaladvocacy.org.

Robinson Bradshaw is a Carolinas-based corporate law firm celebrating 60 years of providing comprehensive legal services to our clients. We represent businesses across the country ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Visit robinsonbradshaw.com for more information

Looking Toward a New Administration

Friends,

This has been an unparalleled election season for many reasons, among them occurring during a global pandemic and national protests for racial justice. We now know the outcome of our national and state elections. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy applauds those who have fought so fiercely to protect the democratic process, register others to vote, and cast their own ballot. Despite numerous obstacles, North Carolinians voted early and by-mail in record numbers yielding this historic administration. Kamala Harris is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be elected to national office—an incredible achievement for Harris and the United States as a whole. This is a historic end to an historic year.  

Now, more than ever, our country needs strong leadership to overcome the socio-economic consequences of this pandemic. We hope that the Biden administration will implement policies that expand services and protections to low-income families and all United States residents during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these issues include universal healthcare, raising the federal minimum wage, ensuring the availability of asylum relief for immigrants, and expanding access to our legal system. 

The Advocacy Center also acknowledges the important role of the state legislature in passing policies that impact our community and our clients. Here are a few key issues affecting North Carolinians that our organization encourages the state legislature to pass and for our community to support: 

  • Medicaid Expansion: Access to affordable care is critical during the COVID-19 crisis. North Carolina is just one of twelve states not to have expanded Medicaid eligibility so that all state residents have affordable healthcare options. Without Medicaid expansion, it is estimated that over 500,000 people fall into the coverage gap—even more since the start of the pandemic. Learn more about the coverage gap here
  • Fixing our broken unemployment insurance system: Over one million North Carolinians have applied for unemployment benefits since March. The overwhelming volume of applications paired with implementing new assistance programs has caused significant delays, making the process more confusing for applicants. These funds are critical to families trying to recover from this pandemic. 
  • Expanding food assistance programs: The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program expanded food assistance for North Carolinian families during this pandemic. Families receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) have been receiving the maximum eligible benefits through October 2020. To ensure individuals can feed their families, these programs and expansions must continue without work requirements. 
  • State funded rent and mortgage relief: The CDC Eviction Moratorium expires on December 31st, 2020 with no adequate plan to keep all North Carolinians safely housed. The state legislature must act quickly to increase program funding for rent and mortgage relief by allocating nearly 1.5 billion unreserved dollars toward assistance for families affected by COVID-19.  

While these issues have a distinct urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also necessary social safety nets beyond this global crisis. As federal and state protections expire, programs must be implemented to ensure there is support for all North Carolinian families to endure this pandemic and put our state on the road toward economic recovery. 

While we celebrate the incredible work of activists, voters, and elected officials across the country, the fight for safety, security and stability in our society continues. Call your state and federal representatives regularly to show your support of low-income North Carolinian families and pandemic relief efforts. Volunteer with community organizations, exercise your constitutional right to protest and petition, and practice empathy and compassion. Our community’s influence does not end after we cast our ballot: looking beyond electoral politics is integral to lasting change. 

This year has certainly presented challenges to our communities, but Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will continue to serve and affirm low-income families, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, disabled people, and immigrants. We strongly believe that diversity of life and experience is what makes our country great and we will persist in fighting for access to justice for all people. Our vision is to build a just community, where all people are treated fairly, which does not, and will never, end after an election. 

Sincerely, 

The staff at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy 

The 2020 Election

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy logo

Friends,

The 2020 election has been certainly unprecedented. Although ballots have already been cast in North Carolina and across the nation, we understand that we likely will not know the outcome of the election for days to come. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy recognizes and is grateful to activists and organizations that have mobilized the American public to exercise their right to vote.

North Carolinians voted early and by mail in record numbers with over four and a half million people voting absentee this season. Whether you voted in person or by mail, thank you for voting and for your commitment during this election. 

While we wait to hear who the next President Elect and our state representatives will be, we hope that you and your family can take some time to rest, reflect, and regroup. Anxieties are particularly high during elections and have been worsened by the global COVID-19 pandemic. We have endured an exhausting election year. 

The fight for justice for all does not end at the ballot box. We must continue to hold our representatives accountable for the pressing needs of our communities during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue to take action: 

  • Regularly contact your state and federal representatives to encourage them to pass legislation that extends pandemic relief efforts and expands social safety nets for your neighbors.  
  • Get involved and volunteer with local organizations; you can learn about volunteer opportunities at The Advocacy Center here.  
  • Support and, if you are able, join those who are working for racial equity.  

Let this election become your call to action and the start, if not continuation, of your commitment to access to affordable housing, food and financial security, health insurance, and justice.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will be here to serve our community regardless of election results. We continue to advocate for the safety, security and stability of low-income families, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, veterans, and immigrants through civil legal aid. As the economic and legal repercussions of this pandemic unfold, The Advocacy Center will continue to adapt to meet urgent needs.

We are here, we are working, and we are listening.

Sincerely, 

The staff at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy 

Voting in 2020

Have you made your plan to vote yet?

In a historic election year, your voice deserves to be heard. Vote for #accesstojustice this fall.  Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy encourages everyone who can to vote and let their voice be heard. 

Below you can find information on how to register to vote in North Carolina, ways that you can vote in North Carolina, resources for this information, and non-partisan election volunteer opportunities.  

How to Register to Vote: 

Regular voter registration ends on October 9th, 2020. Eligible voters can register to vote three ways: 

  • BMail: Fill out the voter registration form (English) (Spanish) and mail it to your local Board of Elections office or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Click here to find your local Board of Elections office.  
  • Online: North Carolina residents who have a valid driver’s license can register to vote online on the DMV website. There is no fee associated with this service.   
  • In Person: You can register to vote in person at your local Board of Elections office, DMV, or during early voting.  

If you miss the regular voter registration deadline, you can register at your early voting polling precinct between October 15th and October 31st AND vote on the same day. You must have a document with your legal name and proof of address such as a valid NC driver’s license or other government issued identification, a recent utility bill, or a current college/university identification with proof of campus residency. Learn more about early voting registration here. Check your early voting site here.   

How to Vote: 

Registered voters in North Carolina can cast their ballot by mail (also known as absentee voting) or in-person:  

  • By Mail: You can request your absentee ballot online via the North Carolina absentee ballot request portal. You should request your ballot as soon as possible and at least two weeks prior to election day due to mail delays. After receipt of your ballot, cast your vote in the presence of a witness and return it to any of the following locations by 5pm on November 3rd: 
  • Mail it to or drop it off at your local Board of Elections office. Click here to find your local Board of Elections office. 
  • Drop it off at your early voting site between October 15th and October 31st. Find your early voting site here.   
  • In person: You can vote early in-person between October 15th and October 31st or on election day on November 3rd. Please note that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the locations of polling precincts and that in-person voters will be required to follow all COVID-19 state safety guidelines. Curbside voting is available for individuals who are unable to enter the polling precinct. Find your early voting site here. Find your election day voting site here.  

Get Involved 

There are several options to for interested volunteers to get involved in the 2020 election: 

  • Election officials and student assistant election officials direct voters during in-person voting days. Learn more and sign up on the NC Board of Elections website.  
  • Train and sign up to be a poll monitor with Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition.  
  • Register your friends and family to vote with the information provided in this email! (Or forward this email to them!) 

Living in Fear: Report Documents the Harm Inflicted on Immigrant Families, Children in Charlotte Area, Carolinas

Every day, immigrant families live in fear of separation and suffer from chronic stress while struggling to build a stable life in a community that keeps them on the fringes.

These are the findings of a recent report documenting the harm of the Trump administration’s deliberate attacks on immigrants living in the Carolinas and across the U.S.

In collaboration with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and South Carolina Appleseed, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has released its findings based on interviews with a range of professionals serving the immigrant community—including childcare providers, nursing home visitors, health and mental health care providers, health insurance navigators, nutrition assistance providers, and legal service providers.

“The Trump Administration has repeatedly shown indifference to the effects of its policies and rhetoric on children across the country and in some cases is deliberately using harm to immigrant children as a political lever,” said Madison Allen, co-author of the Carolinas report and senior policy analyst/attorney at CLASP. “We found that parents are altering their daily lives and avoiding public health, nutrition, and education programs because of these relentless attacks. We heard stories about parents being detained in front of their children, kids who are afraid to go outside and play, and chronic stress that will have long-term consequences for many children.”

Charlotte’s foreign-born population makes up 10 percent of the total population, with most individuals coming from Latin America (50 percent) and Asia (31 percent). This population has grown significantly over the past 10 years.

With one in four children having at least one immigrant parent, the report illustrates the deliberate detrimental impact this administration’s rhetoric and policies are having on children and, by extension, our greater community.

Through interviews conducted between January and March 2020 in the Charlotte metro and Columbia, S.C. areas, recurring themes echoed the harmful and deep impacts families experience because of the Trump administration’s harmful rhetoric and zero-tolerance enforcement tactics.

Interviewees shared stories of how the constant, looming fear of immigration enforcement dramatically impacts daily life for immigrant parents and children in their communities.

Parents and caregivers are afraid to leave their homes to work or take care of everyday necessities out of fear that they will not return home to their families. That fear is not limited to adults either. Children of all ages are also experiencing and internalizing chronic stress and anxiety that impacts their health and wellbeing in ways that will linger for years.

Providers shared concerns about the children who are living at homes with chronic ongoing stress and what that means for their future. As a nurse practitioner explained, “the increase in cortisol and the inflammatory markers that go along with stress precipitates a lot of chronic disease.”

Families are also avoiding publicly funded health and nutrition services for which they are eligible specifically due to the administration’s new Public Charge rule. The rule, which went into effect Feb. 24, expands the types of benefits considered in the “public charge” immigration test administered to immigrants entering the country or seeking permanent residency to determine if they will become primarily dependent on the government for financial support.

The rule has faced several court challenges since going into effect with decisions just in the last month that have put it on hold and then resumed it again, adding to confusion about what options families have.

Immigrants without legal status do not qualify for most public benefits. Most immigrants with status who do qualify for public benefits along with all U.S. citizen family members are not subject to the rule. Also, several types of public benefits are not included in the assessment, such as WIC, NC Health Choice and Emergency Medicaid. This hasn’t stopped families from withdrawing from stabilizing programs out of fear.

In the report, Advocacy Center staff shared several stories of families choosing not to enroll in benefits.

One story involved a woman from Mexico who had been a U.S. citizen for 20 years. During a meeting to enroll in health coverage, a health insurance navigator shared that the woman was eligible to sign up for food stamps (SNAP benefits) based on her income. The woman declined “… because of the public charge, she thought it applied to her … and she was just really scared.”

Medical-Legal Partnership coordinator Elizabeth Setaro has been leading the Advocacy Center’s efforts to help families fight fear with facts.

“Through education and outreach, we are making sure families understand what they’re entitled to receive and have access to the necessary resources that ensure they remain stable during these uncertain times,” Setaro said.

On top of policy threats at the federal level, immigrant families in the Carolinas face added barriers when accessing safety net programs like Medicaid due to shortcomings in the state eligibility software and training for social services staff. These systems are difficult for most people to effectively navigate without assistance, especially when English is a second language.

CLASP’s research found that conditions for immigrant children and their families in the Carolinas were exacerbated by confusion, misinformation and limited availability of legal services, specifically in South Carolina.

In the Charlotte region, the Advocacy Center is the largest provider of free and low-cost legal services for immigrant families, but additional options for legal assistance are limited beyond hiring a private attorney.

Private immigration attorneys are often not well versed on immigrant eligibility for public benefits, which also adds to confusion and uncertainty.

The Advocacy Center fights to ensure equal access to resources under the law for immigrant families. That includes working with service providers and the immigrant community to help families understand and access local resources that are available, while also holding administrative and government systems accountable to provide services families are entitled to receive.

The report’s findings illustrate the need for policies that equitably ensure safety, economic security and stability for all families, including immigrants.

Such policies would enable all people to live their lives as productive citizens engaging in civic and economic life without fear and build a strong community that allows families to thrive.

Learn more by reading the report, “Trump Administration Immigration Policies Are Harming Children and Families in the Carolinas”.

New Driver’s License Restoration Program gets N.C. Residents Back on the Road to Opportunity

Driver’s License Restoration Program Builds on Statewide Effort to Forgive Fees, Minor Traffic Issues

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has launched a Driver’s License Restoration program to help low-income individuals who have lost their driver’s licenses due to minor traffic violations and failure to pay court fees. The program builds upon the momentum of an initiative undertaken by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office to forgive court fees for more than 11,000 Mecklenburg County residents now listed in the NC Fair Chance database.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is working to help those with suspended licenses understand their eligibility for fee forgiveness, and provide direct legal assistance to others. The goal of the organization’s Driver’s License Restoration program is to help Charlotteans drive legally, improving their access to employment, education and opportunity. 

“Speeding tickets and court fines are a relatively minor expense for many of us,” explained attorney Lashieka Hardin who coordinates Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Community Redevelopment project. “But for many Charlotte residents, those expenses compete with critical priorities like putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.”

One in seven North Carolina residents has had their driver’s license suspended, most often for simple violations that include running stop signs, speeding and failing to pay court fees and fines. Without the ability to legally drive to school, work or appointments, community members with suspended licenses face significant barriers to economic mobility. Without access to representation and funds to pay court fees and apply for restoration, these residents can face misdemeanor convictions and even incarceration. 

Several government and community partners are tackling this problem from different angles to help North Carolina residents, and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is filling in the gaps. The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office has forgiven fees for more than 11,000 residents who have lost their licenses.

Those whose offenses were two years old at the time were added to a web-based database compiled by NC Fair Chance, a project of the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, the North Carolina Justice Center and district attorney partners across the state. While the database can be an easily accessible and user-friendly first step for the residents listed, it does not include all who may qualify. 

To check if your traffic fine or court fee was eliminated, please check the North Carolina Fair Chance database.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will provide support for those listed in the database, and help those not listed understand their eligibility for debt forgiveness. For those whose driver’s licenses have been suspended for other reasons, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy may be able to provide direct legal services and representation. Once fees are forgiven and legal issues resolved, the organization will complete the process of restoring clients’ driver’s licenses, putting vulnerable Charlotteans on a path to better opportunity.

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Driver’s License Restoration program is available to Mecklenburg County residents who earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level and do not have any pending traffic charges.

Those who have lost North Carolina driver’s licenses can call 704-376-1600 ext. 523 for more details. Clients will receive a free copy of their statewide driving record, and if eligible, their cases will be placed with a staff or volunteer attorney to complete the process of driver’s license restoration. 

Learn more about the Driver’s License Restoration Project.