Poverty Simulation

Health Sciences Center Poverty Simulation

Understanding the day-to-day reality of poverty is important for everyone involved in fighting poverty - from policymakers to healthcare providers. The HSC Poverty Simulation is a unique tool that helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress.

During a simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families, including single parents, people with disabilities, and senior citizens on Social Security.  The task of each family is to provide for food, shelter and other basic necessities during four 15-minute "weeks.”  Families interact with community resources.

Although it uses "play" money, fictional scenarios and time limits, the poverty simulation is not a game.  It's a simulation that enables participants to view poverty from different angles and then to discuss the potential for change within local communities.  It's designed to sensitize those who frequently deal with low-income families and to create a broader awareness among healthcare professionals.

Participants will gain:

  • Increased awareness of the financial barriers to patient compliance in low income populations
  • Better understanding of the challenges faced by those living in poverty by “spending an hour in someone else’s shoes”
  • Identify opportunities for increased connections and coordination with other health professionals and community agencies to lessen obstacles for patients

The Poverty Simulation is a profoundly moving experience. It allows participants to think about the harsh realities of poverty and to talk about how communities can address the problem. More importantly, it calls participants to make a difference.

 *The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) used by the HSC ODI was developed by the Missouri Community Action Network (Missouri CAN).  For those interested in purchasing a CAPS for their own site can find more information at the following site: http://www.povertysimulation.net/


To learn more or request a simulation for your class or group, please contact the Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity and Inclusion at hscodi@louisville.edu.


Pictures from July 27, 2016 Poverty Simulation: