Inflation in Bay Area prompts “Poverty Line Prices”

Since the Bay Area became the Silicon Valley, home to some of the tech industry’s biggest companies, it’s become one of the most expensive places to live in the US.

Now imagine being a working class family in that area, where prices for everything are skyrocketing yet wages for those workers remain stagnant. For one-in-ten in the Bay, nearly a million individuals, living on the poverty line means having to do without.

The Bay Area’s median households bring in $153,057 a year, which is five times more than those living at the poverty line. To raise awareness of this inequality gap, the Tipping Point and Goodby Silverstein & Partners are simulating the struggle of living on the poverty line.

Starting today, the non-profit and the agency are introducing “Poverty Line Prices,” where all prices at a local store are five times what they usually are, mirroring what people living in poverty go through every time they go to the store.

The awareness campaign features a short film, where undercover cameras at a grocer in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood – one of the city’s priciest – catch people’s reactions as they’re charged $25 for spinach and $27.45 for butter, essentially five times what the items would normally cost. The shocked reactions from shoppers are designed to bring awareness to the plight of those living on $24,300 or less.

The campaign also features a coupon insert, with prices inflated 500% ($30 eggs, anyone?), that will run in the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The inserts come out the same day when most ads feature Black Friday bargains, so they are meant to shock consumers.

The campaign will drive to the Tipping Point mobile-first website, which lets people plug in their income to determine how expensive basic items feel for those living below the poverty line. The social component will feature the #PovertyLinePrices hashtag.

“The Bay Area is a tale of two cities: the haves and the have-nots,” said Rich Silverstein, co-chairman and partner of GS&P. “We wanted people to get a small sense of the reality of living on the poverty line to truly understand the importance of Tipping Point’s mission.”

The Tipping Point has worked for over a decade to screen and invest in the most promising non-profits to educate, employ, house and support the poor and help them on a path out of poverty.

“Every day, more than one million Bay Area residents are forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying the rent, buying medicine and paying for school books. And, lack of financial resources is just one of the many challenges facing those living below the poverty line,” said Daniel Lurie, CEO + founder of Tipping Point Community. “In a region with so many resources and so much creativity, we simply have to do more to help break the cycle of multigenerational poverty in the Bay Area.”

Aside from the awareness aspect of the campaign, visitors to the website are also encouraged to donate to Tipping Point by donating the value of basic needs that have been marked-up according to their salary.

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