Sustainable land use, targeted poverty alleviation (TPA) and integrated urban/town development are key issues for the poverty-stricken counties of China. This paper explored the spatio-temporal pattern and driving forces of construction land change in Longzhou, a typical poverty-stricken border county in southwest China, based on high-resolution remote sensing images and field investigations. The results showed that, from 2011 to 2016, the construction land in Longzhou increased by 10.08%. The largest increase shown by urban built-up areas (37.74%) followed by rural residential (25.48%), industrial and mining (20.96%), and transportation areas (15.49%) as well by tourist facility areas (0.33%). The accelerated urban development, rural housing construction, and construction of industrial parks and transportation facilities are main factors driving construction land expansion, while the implementation of TPA strategy and the booming of border trade activities are important policy drivers of the construction land expansion. Some of the major implications for improving poverty-alleviation-oriented land use policies were further discussed. The authors argue that land use policy innovation could play a key role in breaking the Matthew effect (poor get poorer, rich get richer) of China's uneven regional development and generating and accelerating the transformation development of poverty-stricken counties. It is fundamental to meet the demand of construction land for TPA, meanwhile raise the intensive level of land utilization. The authors suggest that the government need to further improve and implement preferential land use policies for poverty-stricken counties from the provincial level, appropriately increase the quotas of construction land, and effectively strengthen the rational, efficient and intensive use of the quotas of construction land, and provide solid land policy support for poverty alleviation and thus achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with higher quality.