I waitressed my way through college and hostessed my way through my first few jobs in D.C. so I picked restaurant server as my job. And while I made it through the month – with a toothache – I attribute my decision-making abilities to the scrappiness I developed as a kid.
What am I talking about? This really awesome new game called SPENT, developed by Urban Ministries of Durham and the aptly-named advertising agency, McKinney. (Why’s the ad agency aptly named? Because the largest federal investment in homelessness assistance is called the < a href=http://www.endhomelessness.org/section/policy/legislative_updates/mckinney>McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs. Cool, right?)
The game asks you to slip on the shoes of a low-income person who has to find a job, take care of a kid, and make the day-to-day economic decisions to ensure that your family stays out of homelessness. Not that it sounds easy – but let me assure you that the decisions are hard. On top of it all – they game throws a few roadblocks along the way: job loss, an unexpected bill, family mishaps. The aim? To make it through to the end of the month without running out of money – and then to do it all over again.
It’s a great experience – especially because it really brings the reality of an at-risk person much closer to home. If you flipped through our latest report, you know that we found that not only did homelessness rise from 2008 to 2009, but those populations at-risk of experiencing homelessness – those housing cost-burdened, unemployed, or in specifically at-risk populations –stayed stagnant or grew as well.
It’s like Urban Ministries of Durham points outs, “Spent is not just a social networking campaign, but an immersive online experience created and donated by McKinney. Raising awareness of the complex issues involved with poverty and homelessness and galvanizing the support needed to address those issues, are important components of our work…”
And if you don’t believe us, you can check out the video (below).
And don’t forget to play the game!