Innovative 'Open House' Exposes The Secret Poverty Behind Closed Doors

Often times, poverty is not easy to see – a point the Salvation Army is trying to drive across with a dramatic awareness campaign.

Most people associate poverty with homelessness, whereas reality can be quite different. It is not always easy to tell if a person, even the one living in a dainty house with white picket fence, is living frugally or skipping meals in order to make ends meet.

There is much more to poverty than strikes the eye, though sadly, most people remain unaware of the magnitude of the crisis.

The nonprofit Salvation Army recently hosted an open house in Canada to get this message across. The charity teamed up with advertising agency Grey Canada to place hidden cameras inside a suburban residence and advertise it as a standard real estate open house.

However, when the visitors walked into the property and peeked inside various rooms, they came face-to-face with startling statistics about their own country.

“One in seven children go to school hungry,” read a cereal box on the kitchen table, while a tin container said, “90,000 Canadians will use a food bank for the first time this month.”

In Canada, approximately 4.9 million (one in seven) people live in poverty, while one in eight households struggle to put food on the table.

“A few days prior to the open house, we put up flyers in the area and in surrounding business storefronts and placed signage throughout the neighborhood,” Darlene Remlinger, president of Grey Canada, told AdFreak. “The house was completely staged using items and goods found at a local Salvation Army depot. Upon entering the home, a ‘real estate agent’ was on hand to welcome prospective buyers and gave them a short explanation of the campaign. The open house footage was captured with 20 hidden cameras placed in cupboards, and every room of the house.”

The campaign aims to eradicate a common presumption that the only poor people we see are on the streets. People struggle to make ends meet and have to forgo necessities even if they have a roof over their heads and appear to be well-established.

“Our idea was to open the doors and invite the public into the everyday home and circumstances of a family living in poverty,” Remlinger added. “We wanted to show how poverty can live on your street or in your neighborhood. It's just not always easy to see.”

Unfortunately, the situation in the United States is not much different. The number of food-insecure people in the country hovers between 48 to 50 million, according to the 2016 Hunger Report.

 Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters

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