The Heart of Illinois United Way hosted a Poverty Simulation on March 15 at Dream Center Peoria. More than 100 volunteers and participants were a part of this learning tool to help people understand the reality of living in poverty.
During the simulation, participants role-played the lives of low-income families including TANF recipients, people with disabilities, senior citizens on social security, etc. These participants had to work with volunteers representing various agencies and services to meet their basic needs on a limited monthly budget over the course of four, separate 15-minute sessions that each represented one week of a month living in poverty.
Poverty facts from the Heart of Illinois United Way’s 2017 Peoria Area Community Assessment and quarterly grant reports show that in central Illinois:
- 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 live below the poverty line.
- 43% of single mother/female guardian households with children under age 18 live in poverty.
- 49.6% of households with children under 18 receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
- 89% of LIHEAP funding (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) is distributed to seniors, persons with disabilities, and homes with children under the age of 5.
- The annual cost of basic needs including food, child care, medical expenses, housing and utilities, transportation costs, clothing, personal hygiene, etc., is $39,004 for a single parent with one child, $51,118 for a single parent with two children, and $41,342 for one working parent and one stay-at-home parent with two children.
- More than 70% of the families and individuals served by United Way funded education, financial stability and health programs live at or below 100% of the federal poverty guideline.
The poverty simulation presented on March 15 was created by the Missouri Association for Community Action to create broader awareness of poverty and help community leaders begin to understand what it might be like to live as a typical low-income family trying to survive from month to month.