Tonia Hicks is a progressive candidate for Cambridge City Council. "We the Everyday People for Tonia Hicks" is the uplifting theme of her campaign. Tonia wants to bring accountability to City Council and create a city government that is responsive to the needs of the poor and disenfranchised. Tonia is a NEW VOICE. Tonia especially supports housing stability, food security, youth and young adult investment and environmental justice.
How have your experiences, prior to or outside of seeking elected office, shaped your views on housing and land use in Cambridge?
I am a currently a renter in Cambridge and have experienced, first-hand, the issue of rising rents in the city. Housing is a necessity, not a privilege. Housing stability is essential for optimal quality of life. Everyone should have safe and secure housing without fear of displacement.
In your own work, what have you done to advance the goals for the City of Cambridge that you care about?
I'm running for City Council for just this reason.
What is a stand or action you have taken that has displeased some Cambridge voters?
What are models and/or strategies Cambridge should use to create more income-restricted affordable housing?
Cambridge needs to address the affordable housing crisis using a variety of approaches including rent control, city-sponsored assistance programs for tenants to keep rent affordable, advocating for sealing of eviction records, and building more 100% affordable housing on city land.
Do you agree that only broad market affordability will maintain Cambridge as a community for everyone and Cambridge should lead the region to increase local and regional housing supply?
Yes. Increasing housing supply should be one of the approaches to addressing the affordable housing situation in Cambridge. Please see answer to question above.
How can Cambridge better protect tenants against displacement? (Please focus your answer on strategies within municipal authority.)
Cambridge specific solutions to prevent tenant displacement could include city sponsored assistance programs for tenants to keep rent affordable and building more 100% affordable housing on city land.
Do you believe we have a climate obligation to pursue greater density and allow more people to live here?
Yes. As stated above, I believe that building more affordable housing on Cambridge owned land is important for addressing the affordable housing crisis. Addressing climate change is also a priority. I believe solutions that address both of these issues would be valuable to the Cambridge community.
Do you support the affordable housing proposal at 2072 Mass Ave?
Yes. According to voters, affordable housing is the number one most important issue in Cambridge today. If elected, I will take steps to make sure that the public is aware of decisions being made about affordable housing developments and drive increased participation by the voters in our city. I would also support changing the rules of appointment to city committees, such as the BZA, so that the City Council has greater say in who is on those committees.
Do you support changing neighborhood zoning, including dimensional standards, to allow small-scale multi-family housing like triple-deckers, four-plexes, and six-plexes?
Yes. As stated above, I support increased building density to address the affordable housing crisis in Cambridge.
Do you believe Cambridge should stop requiring new off-street parking for all residential development?
Generally. Some people need access to motor vehicles and a place to park them.
Do you believe Neighborhood Conservation District rules need reform?
Generally. I'm in favor of maintaining historical buildings in Cambridge. They are an important piece of our city's heritage. However, using NCD rules to avoid compliance with affordable housing mandates is never ok.
Do you support a municipally funded right to counsel for every Cambridge tenant facing eviction?
Yes. As I stated above, housing is a necessity and not a privilege. Anyone facing eviction should have full right to counsel.
How far, if at all, should the City Council go in encouraging transit-oriented development? How should the City Council go about doing it?
Yes, the City Council should encourage transit-oriented development. The City Council could start by making sure that all Cambridge residents have the opportunity to give input on development priorities.
How would you evaluate the City Council's approach to sustainability over the last few years--what is one aspect you agree with and one aspect you disagree with?
What can the next City Manager do to promote your housing priorities?
Appoint committee members whose views are more reflective of voters' priorities in Cambridge.
What should the city do to increase walking, biking, and transit usage in Cambridge?
Improve sidewalk maintenance. Many people have difficulty walking on sidewalks that are obstructed and have uneven surfaces (tree roots, etc). Clear snow more consistently so that people can walk year round. Maintenance of protected bike lines. Increase the rider capacity of public transit (the T and the buses) - especially at peak times. Improve cleanliness of public transportation options.
Aside from housing and land use issues, what are some major priorities you hope to push for on the City Council?
Housing stability, food security, youth and young adult investment and environmental justice.