MI Congressman gets taste of living in poverty

WASHINGTON – Fake money is counted out on the table as part of an activity that is set up by the Catholic Charities to expose a very real problem.

“Many of us take the security of our lives for granted,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) who took part in the simulation. “People who live below the poverty line go to bed every night really not knowing about tomorrow.”

But the people who took part in the poverty simulation got a taste of that stress. They were given a fake name, a fake address and job, then, had to make it through this simulation with only the resources available to someone who lives in poverty.

The participants had to navigate the set-up community, complete with an employer, a pawn shop and even a public school.

The participants were met with rude employers, less than accommodating social services employees and even crooked cops. Kildee says it’s a good lesson to remember to help people who need it.

“We can’t expect people to understand things they don’t understand,” Kildee said. “And I think for people in social services and in the government sector, it’s really important for us to keep that in mind.”

Nearly 50 million people live in poverty in the United States, including about 16 million children. Kildee says that is why he supports legislation to help those who are struggling; he recently re-introduced a bi-partisan bill to extend federal unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed.

“The reason have this safety net is not because people will choose this as a long-term lifestyle, but to get them from their last job to their next job,” Kildee said. “And for the vast majority of people, that’s what it’s all about.”

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