Entities within Marquette University held a two day conference on the trauma of poverty recently in Milwaukee. Attendees were invited to participate in a simulation titled “just neighbors” that attempted to give recreate the traumatic experience of being poor.
“Just Neighbors,” explores what poverty feels like: urgent, frustrating, desperate and at times, hopeless.
There were more than a dozen volunteers — all SDC employees and service providers — posing as the “service providers” in the scenario: a banker, drug and food provider, mortgage/rent collector, pawnbroker, payday loan providers, utility collector, three social service employees, educator, general employer, pediatrician, police officer and child care provider.
Each participant was given a sheet with their number of children, assets, money and family circumstances, such as parents with pregnant teenage children or prior felonies on their record.
At times, it was confusing and some participants complained that they didn’t understand the rules.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 27.4% of Milwaukee’s residence live in poverty.