The City of Highland Park is receiving major backlash from the community after announcing a “poverty simulation” event that was set to be hosted at the city’s country club.
Highland Park officials announced the event Tuesday and said they were partnering with Alliance for Human Services, Family Focus, Moraine Township and the Highland Park Community Foundation.
The organizations were scheduled to host a poverty simulation event to “increase residents’ understanding and awareness of what it is like to live in poverty in Lake County.”
The simulation was scheduled for Saturday morning at the Highland Park Country Club.
Attendees were asked to register for free online but a sign-up page has since been shut down.
“Participants in this immersive experience will begin to experience what a “month” in poverty feels like. Participants are put into situations in which they do not have enough resources and are forced to make difficult choices that can negatively impact them and their families,” the City of Highland Park said.
“The outcome is increased awareness of the need for resources to support those living in poverty to create a more resilient health, human, and education sector in our local area,” the city said.
The city said in an update Thursday afternoon that the event had been canceled.
The initial announcement post made by the city has received over 1,600 comments so far.
One commenter called the event “truly unbelievable and grotesque” while another asked, “So do attendees valet park their Mercedes before entering the poverty simulation event?”
Other commenters noted the irony that the event was being held at a country club.
“You shouldn’t have to simulate poverty to empathize with the poor or feel compelled to provide aid. Gather resources and make contributions to local organizations whose missions are centered around poverty and income assistance…. this is such a waste of time and energy and doesn’t actually help anyone. So tone deaf,” another commenter said.
Lake and McHenry County Scanner has reached out to city officials for further comment.