The question of what are considered the causes of poverty is often neglected in the literature of this area of research. This paper analyzes the attributes of poverty in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County, Hungary, which is one of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. Research was carried out in 2011 and 2019 using the method of systematic data collection, making possible the comparison of the changing perceptions of poverty over time. The research objective is to discover whether, as is common in Eastern European countries, support for explanations which blame structural conditions is dominant in the public perception of poverty. This research has made it clear, that the poor are often considered by the public to be responsible for their own vulnerable situation. With regard to the area where the research took place there is a discrepancy between reality and the public perception of poverty and the functioning of the welfare system which is thought to be generous and which is considered to offer multiple types of public aid for a wide range of recipients.