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PBHA Hosts Poverty Teach-In

The Phillips Brooks House Association.
The Phillips Brooks House Association. By C.C. Gong
By Karina G. Gonzalez-Espinoza and Kanishk A. Mittal, Crimson Staff Writers

The Phillips Brooks House Association joined with several community groups to host a teach-in Saturday to discuss poverty-related issues and legislative movements related to poverty in Massachusetts.

The teach-in featured discussions on a variety of economic and social issues related to poverty during panels that ran throughout the Saturday. Panelists tackled the issue from many angles including youth poverty, education, housing, immigration, and the effects of the recent legalization of cannabis.

The primary co-host for the event was the advocacy organization Union of Minority Neighborhoods. Horace Small, the group’s founder and executive director, praised PBHA’s efforts and said he hoped that the group would continue to grow.

Other community groups in attendance included Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, Greater Boston Legal Services, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

“Sometimes we live in a very busy world and don’t know the issues our neighbors are facing,” said Jose A. Palma, a member of Justice at Work and participant in the immigration panel.

PBHA President Anwar Omeish ’19 wrote in an email that the organization was excited to connect these groups with students to prompt further dialogue and action, citing the event as an example of PBHA’s new emphasis on community partnership.

“We're excited to be able to bring these amazing community leaders to campus and connect students and community members to each other and to these important issues,” Omeish wrote.

Among the guests were James B. Eldridge, a Massachusetts state senator, and Marjorie C. Decker, a state representative. Both spoke about their efforts to change poverty legislation. Decker also spoke out her own past experiences with poverty.

Maria J. Dominguez Gray, executive director of PBHA, said the teach-in was an opportunity for students to promote grassroots efforts and to lead change in poverty policy, and that she hoped it could connect PBHA volunteers to members in the wider area who work on similar social issues.

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