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Poverty Simulation

In 2017, in the United States, there were 39.7 million people living in poverty. The official poverty rate was 12.3 percent, 0.4 percentage points less than in 2016, and the median household income was $61,372. A family of four, consisting of two adults and two children under 18 years, with a total family income of $24,858.00 or less a year, is in poverty. The population estimates, as of July 1, 2018, in New York State was 19,542,209 and of that number, 14.1% live in poverty. Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017, Current Population Reports

The Poverty Simulation is a team building experience that allows participants to improve on their collaborative skills while simulating what it is like to live as a low income New Yorker. Corporate law firms and state bar associations throughout the country utilize this simulation experience. The NYS Courts Access to Justice Program has introduced the simulation to judicial and non-judicial staff to enrich their work place experience. The simulation has also been facilitated in law schools in New York State, which has provided law students with the opportunity to understand the trials and tribulations that many of their future clients may experience.

For more information on the Poverty Simulation, email Lisa Zayas at

Program Material | Past Events

Program Material 

Angus Deaton, The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem, The New York Times, New York, NY, January 24, 2018.

Premilla Nadasen, Extreme poverty returns to America, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., December 21, 2017.

Ed Pilkington, A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America, The Guardian, New York, NY, December 15, 2017.

Chuck DeVore, Poverty In America By The Numbers, Forbes, Jersey City, NJ, August 22, 2017.

Courtney A. Collins, Ph.D., Poverty Rates, Demographics, and Economic Freedom Across America: A Comparison of Nationwide Poverty Measures, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Austin, Texas, August 2017 .

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016, Current Population Reports, Issued September 2017.

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015, Current Population Reports, Issued September 2016.

Thomas B. Edsall. "How Poor Are the Poor?" The New York Times, New York, N.Y. march 25, 2015.

Roberts, Sam. "One in Five New York City Residents Living in Poverty" The New York Times, New York, N.Y. September, 22, 2011.

Tavernise, Sabrina. “Soaring Poverty Casts Spotlight on 'Lost Decade'” The New York Times, New York, N.Y. September, 13, 2011.

Roberts, Sam. "Census Shows How Recession Hit N.Y." The New York Times, New York, N.Y. September, 28, 2010.

Delancy, Martha and Scott Russell. "Working with Pro Bono Clients." Bench & Bar of Minnesota, M.N. Vol. 62, No. 7, August 2005.

Past Events 

March 2019
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

April 2018
Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

November 2016
Touro Law Center

October 2015:
New York City Civil and Housing Court Judges Training

September 2014
Touro Law Center

February 2013:
Queens County Criminal Court Training

June 2012:
New York County and Richmond County Criminal Court Training

December 2011:
Kings County Criminal Court Training

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