Utah Law holds poverty simulation April 9 to represent low-income families living on limited budget

Apr 02, 2024 | General

by David Kale

Empty leather wallet representing povertyUtah Law is holding a poverty simulation on Tuesday, April 9, aiming to bridge the gap between understanding and experiencing the daily hurdles faced by those in need. Nearly 273,000 Utahns (8.2% of the population) lived below the poverty line in 2022, and this event is designed to mimic the critical decisions and obstacles those living with limited incomes face.

Over the course of an hour, divided into four 15-minute sessions representing a week each, individuals will assume the roles of residents struggling to balance the demands of providing for their family with the limited resources at their disposal. From securing housing and managing a household budget to navigating the complexities of welfare and law enforcement, participants will encounter the multifaceted challenges inherent to a life in poverty. Following the simulation, group members will discuss what they learned and enjoy hors d’oeuvres.

“It’s an engaging way to deal with what’s a really serious and critical topic, which is understanding how complicated and expensive it is to be poor in Utah and America. Rather than confront those issues in a dry research paper or statistical analysis, you put yourself in the shoes of those people for a simulated four weeks and appreciate and develop empathy for how challenging it is,” says Arturo Thompson, assistant dean of the Utah Law career development office and an coordinator of the event.

Thompson has managed the simulation once before and says participants often remark about how fun it is to compete with each other but that it is also stressful to figure out how to pay bills, pay for healthcare, figure out childcare when school is cancelled or someone gets sick, and deal with the cascading effects of those problems.

“Our hope is that the simulation helps lawyers, policy-makers, and community members not only understand the challenges but to become better equipped to develop solutions that more accurately respond to realities faced by the poor,” Thompson says.

Register now for the poverty simulation.