Some elected officials and others got a new perspective on how difficult it is to live in poverty, when they participated in the Entergy Poverty Simulation Thursday morning. Each of them received an identity, which was totally random and may have been someone much younger or older, and may or may not have been their gender.
Participants included Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, District Attorney Brett Ligon, First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant, State Representative Will Metcalf, County Attorney JD Lambright, and Assistant District Attorney Tyler Dunman.
Nancy Heintz, president of the Montgomery County Homeless Coalition said the Entergy sponsored event condensed one month of poverty into an hour, allowing them to face and respond to the challenges faced by the homeless each day.
“Every 15 minutes, they have something they have to accomplish in that 15 minute week,” Heintz said. “They have to have transportation. They have to have all kinds of things to help them succeed. They can be turned away for something as simple as not having a transportation pass.”
The experience also shows participants the frustration of waiting. For example, they may wait in a long line, only to be told the person ahead of them was the last person that service or agency is taking for the week, and they are sent back to their family for the weekend, which in this case was only 15 minutes. They also received random “luck of the draw” cards. Some cards were good and some were bad. Participants had to act out whatever was on the card. They were told to behave as realistically as possible as they portrayed their assigned role, which was based on actual person.
Heintz said in January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “point in time” count for a 24 hour survey was 420 people in Montgomery County. However, that number did not include the counties school district data. That information added in excess of 500 additional students, raising the number closer to 1,000.
HUD does not count people who are “couch surfing” or temporarily staying with a friend, or those who are housed in shelters, Heintz said.
On Saturday, November 14, the Montgomery County Homeless Coalition will host an awareness walk
The three-mile walk begins at 9 a.m. at Crisis Assistance Center on McCall Street and will pass by several agencies that serve clients who experience issues related to homelessness and hunger. Hotdogs will be served at the end of the walk. Registration is at 8 a.m., with a suggested donation of $10 per walker.
An “Empty Bowls” lunch will be served on Wednesday, November 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the top of the Conroe Tower on West Davis.
For more information about the Montgomery County Homeless Coalition and upcoming events, visit their website at http://www.mctxhomeless.org/home.html