Simulation experience reveals real-life poverty situations individuals face every day
NEW ORLEANS - United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Entergy Corporation and the Jefferson Community Foundation hosted Tuesday a poverty simulation to help participants understand the struggles confronted by low-income families and individuals in Southeast Louisiana.
The interactive, immersive simulation allowed dozens of community and business leaders to experience the harsh realities of poverty faced by 19 percent of households living in poverty in the region.
“We hope today’s experience left a profound impact on our participants,” said Ronnie Slone, JCF board member. “By illustrating the many ways individuals are affected by financial instability, we were able to raise awareness and understanding of the countless barriers to prosperity that prevent those living under or near the poverty line from building brighter futures.”
For its part, Entergy coordinated the simulation’s activities, leading groups through four weeks – each lasting 15 minutes – in the lives of individuals and families facing job loss, housing difficulties, financial struggles, or other challenges. During the simulation, the families visited volunteer-staffed tables representing banks, schools, grocery stores, public service agencies, employers, shelters, and community organizations. Participants had to pay bills, find or maintain shelter and employment, and care for their families while navigating both expected and unexpected hurdles.
“Far too often, we talk about poverty without a comprehension of what it truly means for the hundreds of thousands of people in our region that face it daily,” said Charles Rice, Entergy New Orleans President and CEO. “This opportunity to better understand poverty shows us how we can best support our struggling neighbors and move Louisiana families forward.”
While a fifth of Southeast Louisiana lives in poverty, an additional 24 percent of households are considered ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE identifies the struggle of hard-working taxpayers who don’t fit the traditional idea of poverty, given their employment status. ALICE households are living paycheck to paycheck, unable to save, and one health emergency, car repair or harsh storm away from failing over the edge and into poverty.
“No matter the income level, most of us encounter poverty on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s as easy as seeing a person asking for help on a corner, but more often, poverty is harder to identify,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA president and CEO. “It might be the employee waiting for the bus after losing a car, or the child who arrives at school hungry and distracted. But even if we can’t always recognize poverty and ALICE, it is clear that we can do more to build equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated and economically stable.”
About United Way of Southeast Louisiana
For more than 90 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.