‘Poverty Simulation’ at Country Club Sparks Fury


A city in Illinois has announced an event for residents to experience poverty at a local country club, sparking widespread criticism.

On Monday, September 5, the City of Highland Park in Illinois posted the “poverty simulation event,” on Facebook and said it would “increase residents’ understanding and awareness of what it is like to live in poverty in Lake County.” The event is set to be held at the Highland Park Country Club on September 9.

“Participants in this immersive experience will begin to experience what a ‘month’ in poverty feels like. Participants are put into situations in which they do not have enough resources and are forced to make difficult choices that can negatively impact them and their families,” the post said. “The outcome is increased awareness of the need for resources to support those living in poverty to create a more resilient health, human, and education sector in our local area.”

A homeless person on March 25, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois. A screenshot from Google Maps shows the Highland Park Country Club. The city of Highland Park in Illinois has announced a “poverty simulation” event at the country club.
Getty Images/George Rose/Getty Images/Google Maps

The post on Monday sparked a wave of criticism on social media, with many users calling the city out both for the nature of the event and the fact that it’s being held at a country club.

“The City of Highland Park in Illinois is holding a ‘poverty simulation event’ where woke rich people will pretend to be poor for 2.5 hours while sitting in a comfortable country club. You can’t make this up,” Libs of TikTok wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

X user ILSW Watcher wrote, “Highland Park, IL to hold a 2.5 hr. poverty simulation event at country club for the wealthy. This is NOT an Onion Headline! Free admission to virtue signal. Sold out event. Embarrassing and disgusting Highland Park…”

Similarly, X user FrowningSphix wrote, “Let’s play poor at the posh Highland Park Country club for a minute so we can virtue signal about it for years to come from the luxury of our mansions.”

Another X user called the event “amusing, very amusing.”

However, others supported the idea, saying that it would help to raise awareness of the issue.

In 2021, 3.2 percent of the population of the City of Highland Park was in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while the median household income was $153,226. In comparison, the real median household income across the U.S. in 2021 was $70,784.

In a statement to WMAQ-TV in Chicago, City Manager Ghida Neukirch said, “The city is partnering with social services professionals from Highland Park and Lake County to offer this immersive experience to raise awareness of the need for resources to support individuals experiencing economic insecurity, and the wide-ranging consequences of this systemic inequity on families and communities.”

“Programs such as this one, which are developed and presented by social services professionals, are intended to bridge that gap,” the statement added.

Newsweek reached out to the city of Highland Park via email for comment.


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