What does poverty look like?

“It looks black. queer. young. in college. poverty looks like me yet, i'm not impoverished monetarily.”

-       Paid intern, 19


“Children struggling now more than I will and ever had to.”

-       Retired RN, 69


“Poverty looks like homelessness, like starving countries, like the faces of those oppressed by a perpetuating government system of hierarchy that keeps a certain population from accumulating wealth and rising from the poverty line.”

-       Professor, 46


“Being homeless and losing body mass because you have no money or resources to help you.”

-       Veteran, 39


“I only see homeless white people. I don’t know why so much of the focus is on everyone else. They need to come to this county and look again.”

-       Student, 15


“Poperty is no moneys? My mommy never has moneys like 2 seconds ago I asked for a candy’s and she said she has no moneys. My Daddy has all the moneys, he always says yes. He should give some to my mommy.”

-       Unemployed, 4 and 3 quarters


“Come over and I’ll show you”

-       Hostess, 19


“Poor, homeless, people not getting proper education.”

-       Manager, 19


“I’m rich because my entire family worked for everything we have. Poverty is laziness.”

-       Business Owner, 36


“I don’t really know what it looks like. I don’t have to worry about it because of my privilege but I want to know. I need to know. I need to do something about it.”

-       Unemployed, 23


“No air pods”

-       Music Artist, 14


“Someone who doesn’t own material possessions and is struggling to live.” 

-       Retail, 20


“You. Not you maam but, your color you know? Not many people like you very successful, especially these days where no one cares about them sports no more.”

-       Mailman, 42


  “It looks like the norm.”

-       Student, 15


When I had to skip meals due to lack of money as a child, when I couldn’t get new shoes every year, getting our dining room table at sal Val because we couldn’t afford anywhere else.”

-       Student, 19


“Looks like unequal treatment, equity & opportunity.”

-       Warehouse worker, 27


“Poor and living in harsh conditions”

-       College student, 19


“A mom struggling to feed her kids. A father struggling to support a family. A teenager scrambling for a place to live. A family without a place to sleep. It's so many things.”

-       Sales Representative, 19


“It looks like street beggars.”

-       Retired, 53


“Half of your graduating class taking a ‘year off to decide’ but really just can’t afford college”

-       High School Graduate, 17


“Inner city high schools with textbooks from 2000.”

-       Student, 21


“Rich getting richer, poor getting poorer.”

-       Student, 20


“A parent unable to feed their children even with a constant income, maybe even more than one.”

-       Customer Service Agent, 46


“Knowing college isn’t for you but not having anywhere else to go.”

-       Student, 24


“When I let a 12 year old steal toilet tissue and toothpaste and bread because I know there is no other way they can afford it.”

-       Cashier, *did not want to disclose*


“Lack of funds needed to provide the bare minimum for your family.”

-       Manager, 36


“Inadequate resources, struggling to meet the genuine needs of yourself and your dependents.”

-       Cashier, 19


“Poverty to me looks like a lack of the necessities of life — food, water, shelter, and health care — or a difficulty in obtaining any of those things due to financial restrictions.”

-       Student, 21


“Going to the valley to get actual clothes and like, not to just see if they have cute pieces.”

-       Student, 17


“Family undiagnosed HIV epidemics”

-       Doctor,39


“This, losing everything to the system.”

-       Homeless and unemployed, 36


“Addicts and alcoholics breastfeeding cause formula is too expensive.  Can you believe that happens? I couldn’t but it does.”

-       Stay at Home Mom, 26


“An unfortunate position to be in.”

-       Teller, 48


“Oh hunny, poverty is too sad for this old heart today. I don’t think it looks like anything but I do know what it feels like, defeat. Like everything you do will amount to nothing in this world.”

-       Bookkeeper, 52


“Ignorance, money doesn’t matter. If you are poor and are lacking information and education, to be impoverished of the mind, you can never escape your position. But an educated poor man will not be poor forever.”

-       Professor, 60


“Those who struggle with day to day living.”

-       Student, 19


“Dirty, hungry, and/or sad”

-       Military, 18


“Living with the fear of not being able to support yourself financially or be supported financially.”

-       Unemployed, 16


“Not being able to put food on the table every day”

-       Sales Associate, 20


“Being afraid to get the lights turned off because the only food you have will spoil. Poverty, know it all too well.”

-       Gamer, 16


“I’m actually quite unsure. I don’t think I am fit to answer that question.”

-       Banker, 42


“Not being able to support yourself financially independently”

-       College Student, 20


“Poverty is lack of opportunity”

-       Student, 18


“It looks like only making the bare minimum to provide for necessities while having little to none for desires or one will have to sacrifice.”

-       Camp counselor & Waitress, 19


“I got into law school last year, but poverty is having a degree and still having to work outside of your profession because you can’t afford to start at the bottom of anyone else’s ladder.”

-       Pre Law Graduate and Landscaper, 25


“Having to feed my children first.”

-       Cashier and Mother of Three, 21



“The government forcing the poor to remain poor and vice versa for the rich.”

-       Student 17


“I’ll tell you what it looks like. Working 12/14 hours in a day. So you’re not making enough to pay the bills but you are making enough not to get any help. It’s crazy. That’s poverty, not just the homeless, or the lazy, but the hard workers too. I’m a hard worker, no one will help me.”

-       Nanny, Waitress, Cashier and Mom of Four, 27


“Not sending your siblings to school cause you can’t even afford the soap to hand wash them clothes.”

-       High School Graduate, 17


“Art, music , people , and actual poems”

-       Outdoors Activities Guide, 23


“Not knowing if you will be having a next meal.”

-       Student, 20


“Not being able to find your next meal.”

-       Server, 19


“A state of mind. Anyone can choose to leave poverty. They just need to set their mind to it. I’ve seen it happen.”

-       Teller, 48


“I don’t know that word. But I like your hair and I want school to start. We’re going to Fog and Flame for our mommy and missy date. Goodbye lady!”

-       *Future* Vet, 6


“The other 99% of america?”

-       Student 19


“Idk it's like when the dudes in our class have the oldest off brand sneaks and never get snacks at lunch and like, they never get girls cause they’re poor. You know what I mean? That’s poverty or whatever like, at its worst cause everyone at school knows. Never be that kid.”

-       Practicing Pro Skater, 14


“It looks like when we had to take in kids just to get the check. We weren’t the best to them either. Not hitting them or nothing, just ignoring them like, they caused our poorness, they didn’t they actually helped.”

-       Elementary School Teacher, 32


“It looks like 40 ish percent of the population and no one has anything to say about it. Crazy!”

-       GHD, 49


“Not being able to survive with the income you make.”

-       Unemployed, 22


“I feel like generating an image would simply encourage bias. No one racial group of people represent a single income. Poverty doesn’t look like anything. But I can say it shouldn’t exist.”

-       Professional Grandmother, 52


“Not having enough money to feed a family, afford a house/car, pay for education, and sustain a living”

-       Student, 16



“Just not receiving the things you actually need. Not things you want but, physicals for my boys. Money so they can eat lunch. Keeping the lights on. Those are battles every dang week.I work two jobs. My wife works one full time and we still can’t do it most the times.”

-       Proud Dad, 34


“Food Deserts, unequal employment opportunities, drug filled neighborhoods and street corners”

-       College Student, 21


“A person who has lost everything.”

-       Student, 18


“When you wasted your youth making [bad*] decisions and now you are a grown adult and wanna blame the government. Capitalism isn’t for the evil, it’s for the smart.”

-       Homeowner, 63


“Like being poor.”

-       Cashier, 29


“Eviction notices.”

-       Intern, 22


“I don’t know, lack of wealth”

-Programmer, 31


“I don’t know if poverty has a look. But it’s having to put out more money then you pull in.”

-       Tattoo Artist, 36


“My worst nightmare.”

-       Nanny 27


“Poverty looks like not having the resources to actually live comfortably, not being able to afford the things you need to survive.”

-       Student, 19



-       Student, 20


“The homeless.”

-       Middle Schooler, 12


“Families being separated, the prison pipeline affect, white supremacy, white savior complex, melanin, children in cages, America’s capitalistic government. Need more?”

-       Entrepreneur and Political Activist, 24


“I don’t know.”

-       Mail Sorter, 42


“Cigarettes! EVery homeless person is a smoker and ever since I noticed that cigarettes have smelt like poorness.”

-       Server, 31



-       Student, 16


“It’s poor people. From the ghetto or the street. Section 8 housing.”

-       Student, 15


“Overdrafted bills and bad credit.”

-       Delivery Driver, 32


“Like me not being able to afford my moms chemo. She died 8 months ago.”

-       Student, 21


“I don’t know. But it means to be poor or without.”

-       Department Secretary, 52


“Eating roman noodles every night.”

-       Cook, 19


“Not knowing where my next meal is coming from.”

-       Student, 18


“Two or three jobs at a time and no other way to pay for everything you need to pay for.”

-       Waitress, 27


“State of being extremely poor.”

-       Sales, 19


“Being on food stamps and struggling to make ends meet.”

-       Student, 22


“Working and still being poor.”

-       High School Graduate, 18


“Wow, um I think my sons best friend. We feed him and clothe him and he’s a wonderful boy and his parents are truly great hardworking people. It really reminds you that poverty can look like your very own reflection. That was a good one.”

-       Stay at Home Mom, 34


“The people who I help feed at my church.”

-       Retired, 66


“No food or money.”

-       Ball Player, 15


“Not being able to help my son with his debt. I know he is stressed and it pains me.”

-       Nurse, 43


“It looks like when a certain community/group of people lack the basic necessities that the middle class might have”

-       Full time student, 18


“When I had to drop my kids off at the start of the summer because I can’t afford to keep them home. My very own kids. All three. They think it’s a vacation. That is what poverty looks like to me.”

-       Nurse, 25


“No money for anything.”

-       Landlord, 56


“I don’t think I’ve ever had to think about it.”

-       Mechanic, 27


“I know this sounds awful but, I always think of a starving veteran like, just on the corner begging.”

-       Stay at Home Mom, 32


“Like actually look like? Dirty clothes? Off brand stuff. An android.”

-       Youtuber, 14


“The elderly. I never knew until I started the profession I have now but they really do struggle. It’s still tough to see sometimes.”

-       Home Health Aid, 36


“Having no money or food.”

-       Student, 19


“Everyone suffers from poverty. The poor suffer from the poverty of the mind. The rich suffer from the poverty of their heart.”

-       Intern and waitress, 18

Adrienne MaelComment