Roundtable Series: The Poverty Experience

The December Roundtable, hosted on December 8th at Community Behavioral Health, provided an experiential learning about living in poverty and how it challenges interpersonal engagement and the achievement of goals. Pamela Lawrence, Neighborhood and Community Investment Specialist with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C., led Roundtable attendees though the Poverty Experience, an intensive 90-minute simulation on poverty and the various barriers and obstacles facing both the people who live in low-income households and neighborhoods, and the social service providers, housing and employment professionals, educators and others who seek to provide assistance. About 50 people attended the event.

Participants assumed the role of a person or family living in poverty with particular challenges and responsibilities. For example, you may have taken on the role of a single mother of 3 children. After losing your job, you are evicted from your apartment. During this Experience, you were expected to feed your family, find alternative housing, and seek a job or support from local resources in your community. You faced challenges and if unsuccessful, you had to find another way to survive and stabilize your family. Following the simulation exercise, participants had a chance to share reactions, ask questions and reflect on how lessons from the simulation could be incorporated into their work.

Upon reflecting on the Poverty Experience, those in attendance shared the following action steps:

  • Increased advocacy around participation in the Earned Income Tax Credit program
  • Deepen empathy for clients facing the stark realities of living in poverty
  • Support for BenePhilly centers (Philadelphia’s one-stop shop for benefits access)
  • Stronger collaboration among city partners to better meet the needs of low-income communities

Shared Prosperity in the News: The Poverty Experience was the featured front-page story on Newsworks WHYY on December 16. Reporter Aaron Moselle followed one “family” through the simulation, documenting the challenges they faced during the experience, as well as their reflections on how the experience influences their work going forward.

The Poverty Experience was CEO’s 30th Shared Prosperity Roundtable Series. This Series is an opportunity for organizations and individuals to come together to deepen our knowledge base, share ideas, and identify opportunities for greater collaboration in support of the Shared Prosperity Plan. The Roundtables typically attract broad audiences of service providers, researchers, philanthropists, advocates and low-income individuals. All are welcome.

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