Poverty rates in Bristol, both TN and VA, are significantly higher than the national average.

What Is Poverty?

Poverty is about not having enough money to meet basic needs including food, clothing and shelter. However, poverty is more, much more than just not having enough money.

The World Bank Organization describes poverty in this way:

“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.

Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways. Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action -- for the poor and the wealthy alike -- a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities.”

In addition to a lack of money, poverty is about not being able to participate in recreational activities; not being able to send children on a day trip with their schoolmates or to a birthday party; not being able to pay for medications for an illness. These are all costs of being poor. Those people who are barely able to pay for food and shelter simply can’t consider these other expenses. When people are excluded within a society, when they are not well educated and when they have a higher incidence of illness, there are negative consequences for society. We all pay the price for poverty. The increased cost on the health system, the justice system and other systems that provide supports to those living in poverty has an impact on our economy.

Payday Lending and Title Loans

Tens of millions of Americans are turning to high-cost loans that routinely carry interest rates of more than 400% for everyday expenses, such as paying their bills and covering emergency expenses. For many, those rates end up being just too high and lead to a seemingly endless debt cycle.

Payday loans have become the face of predatory lending in America for one reason: The average interest rate on the average payday loan is 391%.

And that’s if you pay it back in two weeks!

If you can’t repay the loans – and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says 80% of payday loans don’t get paid back in two weeks – then your interest rate soars to 521% and continues rising every time you can’t repay the debt.

Compare that to the average interest rate for alternative choices like credit cards (15%-30%); debt management programs (8%-10%); personal loans (14%-35%) and online lending (10%-35%).

Payday loans are a quick-fix solution for consumers in a financial crisis, but are budget busting expenses for families and individuals.

Poverty Simulations

Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. But unless you've experienced poverty, it's difficult to truly understand. The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) bridges that gap from misconception to understanding. CAPS is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty.

Upcoming Community Poverty Simulation

Join us for a Poverty Simulation at the

YWCA NETN & SWVA on

Thursday, March 12, 2020 from 1pm to 4pm

There is no cost to participate, but pre-registration is required.

Please call (423) 968-4912 or email Admin@BristolsPromise.org to register.

The Experience

Meet Ann Aber. Like many people in poverty, Ann faces the daily struggle to keep a roof over her head and her children fed. Ann is just one person in the up to 26 families part of the Poverty Simulation.

During the Poverty Simulation, you will take on the identity of someone like Ann. You will work together with your family to live a month in poverty.

Your Simulated "community" is a large room. You and your neighbors' "homes" are chairs in the center. The services you need like banks, schools and grocery stores are tables that line the perimeter of the room.

Like real life, you need transportation to work or school. You need food on the table. You might struggle with a chronic illness. Throughout the month you will face the daily stresses and challenges a person in poverty faces.

Again, this simulation is not a game. It is is based on the stories of real life Community Action clients.

For more information or to schedule a poverty simulation for your group, call (423) 444-0622 or email info@BristolsPromise.org

The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS)—an interactive, immersion experience— is owned by the Missouri Community Action Network. The simulation provides a glimpse into the structural barriers of poverty to transform participants’ perspectives about their own communities. These transformed perspectives inspire action toward positive community change. If you are interested in learning more about the Community Action Poverty Simulation or purchasing a CAPS kit license, please visit communityaction.org or povertysimulation.net.