Paper instructions:

Learning About Poverty
What does poverty look like, based on policy?
1. Read the ASPE 2021 Poverty Guidelines
2. Read the case two case studies at the end of this worksheet.
a. Case 1: Sophie is a single woman. She is 35 years old, and although, previously married,
she has no children, and limited education. She dropped out of community college with
only about a semester of credits. She didn’t work while married, and has only been in
the labor force for the past three years. She has no savings, no significant support
system, and is trying to get out of shelter accommodations from a homeless shelter.
Sophie has recently (last month) started a steady job at a fast food restaurant. She is
working the day shift, and making minimum wage. She gets scheduled for 30 hours each
week. Sophie wants to get an apartment and support herself, but isn’t sure that she can
afford to do so. Currently she lives near the restaurant and walks to work, but if she gets
an apartment she would have to find transportation. Sophie hasn’t gone to a Dr in years,
and has health issues that need to be addressed.
b. Case 2: Jack and John have three children ages 1-5 years old. Jack works as an account
manager for a local business, and has a salary of $45,000/year. They rent a house in a
suburban area for $2200/month plus utilities, but never seem to be able to make ends
meet. Jack has a bachelor’s degree and pays $500/month in student loan repayments.
Jack is at the top of his pay scale in his company. John is a stay at home parent, and one
of the children has special needs. They have one car that Jack takes to work every day
and have a car payment of $400/month.
3. Pick a case and develop a required spending list. Identify what the individual/family needs to
spend money on, on a monthly basis.
4. Search the internet to find out how much each of the required things that you indicated the
family/individual needs cost each month in Buffalo, NY. (You can estimate groceries based on
your own grocery spending).
5. Identify what the poverty guideline is for each individual/family. Determine what the difference
is between “poverty” and the income of the individual/family.
6. How are each doing? What does life look like for them? Are they living in poverty?
7. Read part 2 of each case.
a. Sophie finds an apartment in Amherst. The shelter recommends that she not take it
because it requires more than 50% of her income. She ignores this and moves to the
apartment. It takes 90 minutes to get to work using the bus now, and Sophie became
frequently late to work and her hours have been reduced to 20/week.
b. Jack came down with what they thought was a cold, but ended up hospitalized with
pneumonia. He didn’t have enough sick leave and his company doesn’t fall under the
guidelines to require paid family leave. Jack took leave without pay for a month, but was
then let go from his position when he could not return to work.
8. What happens now?
9. Search for support services in Buffalo, NY that might be able to help in this situation. Identify
one that you would want them to connect with, and explain how they may be able to help.
Poverty and Public Policy SWK 301 Spring 2021
10. Summarize what you think the individual/family should do?
a. Do you think it is possible for your idea to work/fix things?
b. What do you think would have to change in order for your idea to work?
11. Go to and walk through a poverty simulation.
a. What choices did you make?
b. What did you start out with at the beginning of the month?
c. What did you end up with at the end of the month?
d. Did you do enough?
e. What did you miss out on?
f. What wasn’t included that you would likely have paid for or wanted?
12. Based on the case study and your experience with the poverty simulation, what is the
relationship between minimum wage and poverty?
You will submit a 2-3 page paper responding to the questions from this worksheet. Please organize your
paper in a bulleted format, much like the list of requirements above.
We are using the APA 7th edition for formatting. Include a cover page with your name on it.
This is worth 10 points.
General grading guidelines:
To receive 10 points: Thoughtfully reflect on each of the requirements. Use complete sentences when
explaining your thoughts/positions. Give details that show that you are critically thinking about the
process of poverty in Buffalo, NY.
To receive 5 points: Use short answers and incomplete sentences. Be vague in your responses. Skip
segments. Poor grammar and spelling.
To receive 0 points: Miss turning in a completed assignment by the due date.
*Please note, that grades will be awarded from 0-10 points, and can be any point value in between. The
more effort you put in, the higher your grade will likely be.

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