Poverty Simulation


“You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) is a learning tool created to help people understand the realities of poverty.  During the simulation exercise, participants role-play the lives of low income families.  Some are TANF recipients, some are disabled, and some are senior citizens on Social Security.  They are assigned to family units and have the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.”  They interact with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and other community members.  Each family tries to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities, including health care needs, for themselves and their loved ones.

The simulation enables participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then to discuss the potential for change within their local communities.  It was designed to sensitize those who frequently deal with low-income families, as well as to create a broader awareness of the realities of poverty among policymakers, community leaders, and others.  

Southwest PA AHEC helps to coordinate and facilitate poverty simulations for community, student and academic groups. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Lynne Williams at lwilliams@southwestahec.org or 412-408-3485.