January Haverford House Update from Gabe Halperin-Goldstein '19
The new year brought new adventures in Haverford House. After some time off for the holidays, we came back ready to go for 2020.
First off – Amanda will be hosting a Let’s Circle Up Workshop on February 15 – 16 at Haverford. Let’s Circle Up is a restorative justice program with people who are incarcerated at State Correctional Institution-Phoenix. The workshop is at capacity, but reach out to Amanda if you want to learn more about it. It is a unique opportunity to learn firsthand what restorative justice looks like.
We had a retreat with Haverford House Program Manager Janice Lion to reflect on the first half of the year. Janice generously invited us to her house in Mt. Airy, where we ate lunch together. Afterwards, we went to Bella Mosaic Art and we each made a mosaic. The owner of Bella Mosaic Art, Jessica, was very patient as we slowly figured out what we were doing.
Amanda kicked off our “Lunch & Learn” series at Philadelphia Legal Assistance. The Lunch & Learns are part of the Haverford House Fellowship, where each Fellow who wants to hosts a presentation at their placement organization. Amanda and her colleagues taught us about threats to homeownership in Philadelphia, and its impact on building wealth. Amanda did a wonderful job, and we all learned vital information about the various ways developers take advantage of homeowners.
Gabe, Hanae, and Lili attended the winter meeting for the Philadelphia Tenants’ Union. PTU is a tenant-led organization committed to fighting for access to quality, affordable housing for all residents of Philadelphia. Members of the union discussed several pressing movements for the upcoming year. The Rent Control Campaign aims to freeze rising rent costs so that landlords cannot drive away lower-income residents as gentrification changes the Philadelphia housing market. PTU is also supporting the elderly folks living in Birth Sholom House in standing up for their rights, as the landlord neglects basic upkeep of the apartment.
There were various other activism-related events we attended. Hanae went to a town hall meeting in West Philadelphia, where elected officials Jim Roebuck, Dwight Evans and Anthony Williams joined former councilwoman Jannie Blackwell to discuss how they were addressing concerns raised by the residents of West Philadelphia. The top issues were asbestos in schools, gun violence, criminal justice reform, and poverty. Gabe attended the People’s Hearing on Bail and Pretrial Punishments on Martin Luther King Day hosted by ACLU. Formerly incarcerated Philadelphians spoke about their experiences with Pretrial Punishment and the burden it places on people without savings to pay for bail. Amanda and Hanae also attended a protest in Center City against the US involvement in Iran.
- Gabe Halperin-Goldstein '19, Fellow at Center for Hunger Free Communities