On February 3rd, the ESA members did a problem solving activity over zoom. We started off with the question, "What are some issues in the Philadelphia and Temple community?" ESA President Aman Sohail gave the first example of trash in Philadelphia, which was then followed by other responses such as: homelessness, food insecurity, gentrification, affordable housing, snow removal, recycling, and crime.
We then voted on which issue we believe is the most important to conquer in the Philadelphia community. Affordable housing was voted the most important, with homelessness and trash following. Then for 10 minutes we were put into breakout rooms and brainstormed with our group members ideas on how we could fix the affordable housing situation in Philly. After our breakout rooms, each group shared what they discussed.
The first group discussed the idea of financial literacy. Proposing that we start at the beginning of the problem, and advocate for financial literacy as well as lobbying for tax breaks and increasing minimum wage.
The next group discussed the idea of taking a landlord approach, and offer housing at a competitive market price, but only offer longterm leases (10-20 years) with the promise of not raising prices. Another idea of splitting rent and utility costs among more people in low income communities came up, as well as adding cafeterias run by people in the local communities.
We broke out into group again and discussed solutions for homelessness in Philadelphia. The first group discussed the prevention of homelessness, and again focused on financial literacy. Heavily focusing on low income areas areas and schools in poverty by providing them with resources and financial literacy courses. Another group discussed how they would organize camps for homeless people where we can directly help those in one collective space. The next group discussed the idea of promoting a program where homeless people are taken in, but they are also given the opportunity to work and better their professional and life skills. Lastly, we discussed an approach on offering shipping containers and homeless communities to those needing a roof over their head. Amenities and utilities would be offered as well.
By discussing these issues and solutions, we were able to hit different angles which showed that there are multiple ways to look at and solve an issue. It was a great activity to exercise critical thinking and problem solving!