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‘Poverty is brutal, and it is crushing’: Simulation staged in Redmond brings to life challenges of making ends meet

Real-life scenarios to get a glimpse of poverty

REDMOND, ORE. (KTVZ) -- Some Central Oregonians got a rare chance Friday to see up close what poverty truly looks and feels like in our communities, and the challenges so many face in overcoming those obstacles.

The number of homeless people in Central Oregon, as measured in an annual, federally overseen "Point in Time" count in January, rose 17% to nearly 1,300, despite outreach team challenges posed by a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to the Homeless Leadership Coalition.

A "Poverty Simulation" was hosted Friday by Oasis Village at Mountainview Fellowship Church in Redmond. It was created in partnership with Rogue Retreat, a homeless services organization.

"We're trying to bring awareness to how broad poverty truly can be," said Hannah Reinhardt, Hope University manager for Rogue Retreat. "Because anybody can be that. People you encounter day-to-day might be living in any one of these circumstances."

There were around 30 participants and 20 volunteers. Participants are assigned a new identity and put into a household with others -- all based on real people and experiences.

The simulation itself represents one month of poverty, so 15 minutes represents one week.

NewsChannel 21's Carly Keenan participated. She played the role of a 20-year-old college student who had a 1-year-old baby. She lived with her single dad who worked full time. After their monthly expenses, the family was still short about $20.

John Nielsen, a candidate for the Redmond City Council, played Keenan's dad -- they had to work as a team to survive.

Depending on your character, participants go to work or places around town, like the pawn shop, or social services.

Everyone had to use a transportation pass to get anywhere. Each household is issued different assets, either in their homes like a microwave, or even jewelry to pawn.

However, there were many challenges along the way.

Keenan and Nielsen's home was robbed, and all their assets and car were stolen -- leaving them to figure out how to make ends meet, all while taking care of other responsibilities.

While the simulation only scratches the surface of what poverty is like, Nielsen says it was still challenging.

"I think it's really informative, I think it's really helpful. I think a lot of people don't realize how difficult it is to try and navigate the system," Nielsen said. "Not knowing what resources are available to you is hard enough, but then having to jump through all of the hoops to try and find the resources that are available becomes a full-time job."

After the simulation, participants and facilitators gathered for a group discussion to reflect on the experience.

"Poverty is brutal and it is crushing and it doesn't care who you are," Nielsen said. "It doesn't care where you started."

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.



  1. Voting for democrats is the main reason for poverty. They should mention that. Maybe george soros or bill gates could give them some tips.

      1. In this case, Troll4truth. The Dems and progressives created and own this, I could blame Biden, but he has not been “present” for some time.

        1. So tell us how Dems created a situation where a pandemic (Caused by the failure to act of the Trump administration.) caused a legitimate shortage of goods that has been continued in order drive higher market prices (Private sector, free market Capitalism.)?

          Awaiting explanation.

            1. Speaking of poverty, the 10 perennially poorest states in the nation are red. Joe Biden’s fault !!!! Soooooooo much losing for the trump loonies!!

              1. Harney County was THEE most prosperous in the state until Democrat policy came along. Literally went straight to the bottom of the barrel

          1. You are completely full of crap, and totally unhinged. Cited no sources, but hey… normal for you. ALA or MLA…. you can even pick which way to cite your claim of the Trump admin causing the pandemic

            Start there, then you can explain the rest when you’re done

        1. Ingraham is partisan first, American second, and is a known source of misinformation. It’s obvious that she’s trying to snow her viewers. You’d do well to stay away from that style of brainwashing for profit–advertisers are the consumers, and you’re the product.

          I’m convinced these days you can be either partisan or American, but not both. You have to actively choose. Quit all political parties now.

              1. Why would somebody that votes blue, think a hard- line 40- year Democrat would suddenly be a republican? Then watch him be against the 2A, sign all 6 democrat spending bills without question, and have so many Republicans like Comey and McCabe trying to take him down?

        2. Who Is Laura Ingram? Is that the lady who supports putin, and wants to take rights away from women, gays, and immigrants? Wait.. Maybe that’s Tucker. I get so confused with Faux Network.

      2. Joey B continues to make American’s suffer from his Putin Derangement Syndrome. Old Joey B sends billions of American dollars to Ukraine while American have to live on the streets and starve. Why exactly are we supporting Ukraine, the most corrupt country in the western world, which is run by Ukrainian Oligarchs?

    1. I consider myself wealthy. Republicans have done nothing but rig the tax systems to help the rich stay rich while making it harder on the middle class(or what’s left of that).

      1. So what exactly has Biden and the whole of the Demokant party done to “un-rig” this tax system ??? Demokants in Oregon have had control for forty years- yet Oregon’s GDP is middle of the road stuff… and financial wizards nationwide graded our state’s response to the covid a (D-). DJ Trump raised the median household income of all classes across the board- especially minorities- what has Biden’s forty year high super inflation rates done to that ? His exploding energy prices- said to top out around $6.50 a gallon nationwide ! And then there’s the markets- clearly Bear- clearly tanking- the Fed is now stumbling and bumbling around as the nation enters a full scale recession- up next- Biden’s depression ! Are you really that ignorant of facts ?

        1. Biden doesn’t do much to unrig it, just like Trump. Arguably Trump did more than Biden to help the poor by raising the standard deduction.

          Of course, he didn’t cut spending and also cut taxes for the wealthy, so now the debt is way exploded. (Any time you hear a conservative complain about deficits, ask them if Trump’s near-trillion-dollar back-to back deficits were a good idea.

          All this said, I’ve found that conservatives are way more likely to be wealth inequality deniers than liberals.

          The middle class needs restoration and the tax system is the biggest lever we have to do it.

          1. DJ Trump got results from his stimulus packages- the bigliest best running economy in decades- what’s Joey and Hunter done for ya now that the markets have some of their longest losing streaks in decades- yer staring record inflation rates- record energy prices- a fed making decades olds decisions to curtail the upcoming disaster- which is imminent- a recession- and then global depression… Biden has done nothing for your middle class but hammer them financially- why won’t you admit that ?

            1. It’s easy to borrow your way to keeping a hot economy. That’s what Trump’s near-trillion-dollar deficits were for. Did you think that came for free? Just because a Republican does it doesn’t make it free.

              This is the game that is always played. The economy crashes, so you prop it up more and more. When it starts to sag, prop it up there. And keep doing that for years, driving the pinnacle higher and higher. But in the end, there’s only so much propping up that can happen. And then a gust of wind comes, and the thing falls over and crashes.

              And then who ever is president gets the blame because actually looking for the root causes is difficult. And it’s easy to get votes by riling party members up by saying that it’s all the other party’s fault.

              Biden has limited control over the economy at this point, just like Obama did. It’s falling, and it’s his job to just make the landing as easy as possible.

              If you think this wouldn’t have happened under Trump, you’re really fooling yourself. Last time it happened under Bush, right? This isn’t a party thing.

              Also, I’ve personally always done fine no matter who was president. None of them address the issues that really need it, though. Trump and Biden? Sorry, but they’re losers. They can’t do the job.

              I’ll tell you what Biden’s fault: like Trump, he doesn’t do anything to preserve the middle class. Like Trump, he doesn’t promote education. Like trump, Biden is a partisan terrible at uniting the nation. Like Trump, he has no interest in building a long-term stable economy. Like Trump… actually, Biden is better than Trump when it comes to constitutional issues.

              Is this poor economy Biden’s fault? Sure, but I don’t think he could have stopped it. And it’s the fault of everybody who came before him who didn’t make the structural changes necessary to prevent this from happening.

              In today’s world, you can be partisan or American. You have to choose.

        2. For once you are right. The Republicans and DINO Manchin have successfully prevented Biden from implementing his proposals to change the tax system. Many must be ver disappointed that despite the overwhelming (truly vast!) majority of American who voted for a Democratic President and Democratic congresspersons, the will of the minority of voters—largely in poor, uneducated states; clearly co-opted by the interests of people having nothing in common with them—triumphs through the structure of the Senate.

        1. What’s “rich”? I consider it maybe worthy of question that I can structure my taxes in a manner that allows me to remit less money than people brackets below me. I’m going to do it because I’m not an idiot. That said, taxes pay for benefits we all enjoy as a society. It’s only reasonable to expect that people with more should contribute more.

      2. They say tax the rich, but what is 1% of that going to do for the country? You have to over tax the majority and treat them as slaves. I am that category amongst many here probably and we feel it. 5 years and middle class (working class) is gone.

      1. It is funny because it is a lie. If you check the 10 highest states you can find both Rep and Dem states in the list. There is little to no correlation between the two. Nice try though keep it up!

        1. I was a little surprised by your comment, so I decided to look it up.

          Forbes lists the top 10 states in terms of percentage of population below the poverty line. They are:

          Mississippi (20.3% below the poverty line), Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and South Carolina (15.2%).

          And these are: Red, Red, Blue, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red.

          The lowest poverty rates are:

          New Hampshire (7.6% below the poverty line), Maryland, Hawaii, Minnesota, Utah, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, Virginia (10.6%).

          And they are: Blue, Blue, Blue, Blue, Red, Blue, Blue, Blue, Blue, Blue.

          Do you have some alternate sources for me?

  2. Tune in to “white underbelly” on YouTube. Mark interviews people of all walks of life that have found themselves on skid row in LA and across America!….. their stories give a grim insight to how homelessness begins….and the drug addictions that exist among them. Sad but very factual

  3. Biden’s catastrophic Presidency- completely inept and corrupt- will put millions of more American’s through the poverty cycle. Oregon is doing it’s part as a Dumbocrat state- as it has decriminalized hard drugs like heroin- crack- and meth… the combination of Biden and the Demokants here in Oregon is where this story should have begun… How exactly do today’s policies of shutting down legal businesses- closing schools- requiring only attendance when schools are open- and the never ending increase of marijuana’s presence… not create more poverty… and why does Salem and DC turn a blind eye ? Under Biden- this looks to be done with intent- ya’ll been warned.

    1. Happy sunny warm Saturday bghw! I hope you find reasons to laugh, love and smile this weekend, now that you’ve let those nasty toxins out of your system in your daily ritual. The world is not 100% foul – never has been, never will be! (Go ahead, “prove me wrong” – I know you can’t!;-)

  4. Biden and the Democrat party own this destruction of America poverty, drugs, border, inflation, crime, green new deal, world affairs, fuel and the list on and on.

  5. You all are so quick to point fingers and to put trust in our politicians. I think it’s just masking the truth everyone seems to look past. HOUSING PRICES AND COST OF LIVING. All of which are avoidable but our politicians and investors get what they want. Growth drives demand which drives up prices unnecessarily. They can keep prices down and still make money but the demand is too enticing and basing the prices on where people are moving from (California, New York, Colorado etc…) All places that are more expensive than here so put them prices just a bit less than those places and you can make a lot of money. It doesn’t matter who you have to hurt to get that money. Force the locals out and create a workforce forced to live in “affordable housing” which is a scam by the local governments and contractors to get more money in the first place. Lower housing costs and homelessness will drop. Look at san Francisco. Most expensive housing in the country and biggest homeless population. Can’t anyone see the correlation? You all are blinded and mislead by your politicians no matter who I is Democrat or Republican they all work for the same thing and it’s not for us. Lower housing prices by attacking the source which is our local politicians and out of state investors. They control how we live.

    1. That’s pretty much 100%. I would go as far to say it’s our local political environment from the Governor on down selling out what we have built, then throw us under the bus

    1. Poor poverty stricken fools are not the Democrats fault or the Republicans fault. I imagine you’re either an investor, contractor or rich Californian that thinks things aren’t bad because it doesn’t affect you. Just go get a better job? Yeah central Oregon has a ton of good jobs for minimum wage so we all can buy overpriced house and nice cars. How about just being able to support our families? Its funny you even have the guys to say anything. Ignorance is how you people get by in life ignoring the fact that you are the root cause of everything you complain about.

      1. I worked hard all my life. I paid my student loans off after college. I earned a degree that held a future. I have money invested and I own my own home. The first election I voted in was in 1976. Every time the democrats take office it’s a disaster. They encourage sloth and ignorance.

  6. Rather a ridiculous endeavor, “simulating” poverty. NOTHING at ALL like the emotional and mental distress of the real thing. A waste of time and energy.

  7. While I feel bad for some who are suffering through no fault of their own, there are scores of people having kids willy nilly, they can’t afford, who don’t put forth any effort at making a good decision in their life. People need to be proactive. An suv, cable tv package, fancy cell phone aren’t necessities in life. Scale back. Work at something, anything. Don’t make excuses. Do you know how many people are on disability for something that DOES NOT prevent them from working in some capacity? Yet they don’t work. They want to be taken care of. Use good judgment, make good decisions and quit expecting someone to take care of you UNLESS you are truly disabled.

    1. Speaking of judgment… who’s judging whom here with broad over-generalizations? Not everyone “makes their own bed,” for a wide variety of reasons. And who gets to judge who is “worthy” of govt. help? The judgmental comment crowd on social media? Big bad govt.?

      1. 4myopinion is 100% correct Barney. I’m betting you know not very many “disabled” people. Filing for disability is a way of life for alot of people this day and age contrary to your belief. I’ve known of atleast 12 people alone that filed for disability just because they didn’t want to work. If you think it doesn’t happen on a larger scale then it’s you that’s brainwashed. And yes, the government is bad. Government needs you to need them, they hate people that can stand on their own feet. Victims are what they want because victimized makes government needed.

        1. “I’ve known of atleast 12 people alone that filed for disability just because they didn’t want to work. ”

          Ahh yes. Like how everyone knows a person on foodstamps that buys filet mignon, or that one black friend all conservatives have.

    1. If its a choice, he should put his money where his mouth is and offer them the choice of a house or the street and see which one they choose.

      1. Sure, just give them one of those “free” (taxpayer funded) homes the lefties are always pipe dreaming about.

        Clearly you have never had to deal with an addict or extremely unsavory character in your personal life so I’ll clue you in here… Some people don’t want to be helped. Some will lie, cheat, and steal from you every time you try to help. Some people are so far gone in those ways that they are beyond helping and they walk all over anyone with a hint of compassion. You can never give these people enough to break the behavior.

    2. I’m sorry to say but my family and I were forced to be homeless for 2 years because we were evicted from our home due to the homeowners “moving in” 2 months later after a fresh painted house they rented it out for twice the rent we were paying. It left us with no solution but to sleep on couches while we tried to find a new home to live in. I can tell you that it was not voluntary that we had to live that way. There were plenty of empty vacation homes and air bnbs available though.

      1. But you had those couches…

        Think about this: What would it take for you to lose those couches? How big of a screwup would you have to be to have nowhere to go but the streets? You would have to alienate everyone you know so badly that nobody would be willing to help you.

        I’m sure there is the occasional case of a person simply having no support from friends and family and I feel for those people but I have to assume this is rare.

        1. Either way with 2 working adults we should be able to live comfortable wherever we want to live. Not be controlled by the 1% who thinks they deserve it.

  8. For all those whose comment catch-word(s) ~ “hand-out”, “freebie”, “lifestyle choice”, etc., I did this simulation around a decade ago at a La Pine school. Donna Beegle (look her up please) came to Redmond and spoke about poverty/barriers, BLPS district PD, followed by the simulation for select attendees after. I was shocked with stress with my “simulation” of poverty trying to navigate community ‘resources’ to assist me in getting out of poverty. It was overwhelming. Be the change people.

    1. We shouldn’t have to be in this situation in the first place if people would get their greedy heads out of their cracks. Unaffordable housing prices equal poverty. Over priced rent from greedy landlords that now have the power to raise rent 7% every year and they do. If housing (not so called affordable housing) was more affordable and rent was less expensive we would see an instant change in poverty rates. It all comes down to money and how much of it one can make no matter the cost. Just remember, everything has a limit and when that limit is reached the rich, greedy investors, landlords and corporate @#$_& will lose their asses and I’ll laugh at them all the way down.

  9. I sure wish I could open up my laptop over my garden with the comments on the majority of these stories, there would be enough BS to grow prize-winning sized veggies and flowers. Most people go to sleep, but a kleptomaniac takes a nap.

  10. If your old enough to remember, back in the 80s 90s early 2000s the daytime tv comercials and late night commercials on most local stations in portland at least were for trend college, ITT tech institue and other trade schools. the would show someone proudly working a new job and career feeling proud, buying groceries for kids and so on. From early 2000s to now those commercials are replaced by social security attorneys saying we can get you money, and a few ambulance chasers. I don’t remember any 20 somethings on social security back then and now days there are many. I guess priorities changed

  11. If your President prints trillions of dollars despite every economist saying inflation will skyrocket, then he cuts our oil independence, then doesn’t solve supply chain issues, then….and then…and then. Anyone who is surprised by this and doesn’t realize it crushes those who live paycheck to paycheck needs to start paying attention. Printing money without realizing the downstream worse effect is sheer stupidity and/or dementia.

    1. The inflation hawks were wrong for years. So at last finally they’re right, in a “if you hit your thumb with a hammer long enough, the sun will come up” kind of way.

      Your faith in the President to solve supply chain issues is optimistic. Trump didn’t solve them, either; it’s a global issue.

      In 2020 and 2021 the US was a net petroleum exporter. So we’re pretty independent when it comes to oil. Petroleum imports have been dropping since 2005.

      What we have here is an economic prop-up that began in 2009 and has been building ever since, that couldn’t handle the stress of COVID’s supply effects plus Ukraine. And now the fed is slowing the bond buyback they started in March 2020 and raising rates, both of which were holding things afloat.

      Both Trump and Biden push as hard as they can for max money, because that’s what the plutocracy demands. (And, indeed, the public. Remember how mad people were with Obama’s slow-and-steady growth? That growth was the bedrock of one of the biggest boom cycles we’ve ever had in this country.) But when you go for max money instead of just stable regular money, you’re going to boom and bust.

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