City council candidate Kendra Hicks calls out her experience of rent issues as part of larger affordable housing issue

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Hicks, a 32-year-old community organizer and artist who received mentions from Senator Edward J. Markey and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Boston, is running for the seat vacated by Matt O’Malley, a 10-year veteran of the Jamaica Plain board who is not seeking re-election. This is the first time she has applied for a public office. Her opponent in the all-around competition is Mary Tamer, a former member of the West Roxbury School Committee.

The municipal district includes Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury, as well as parts of Roslindale, Roxbury and Mission Hill. The District 6 race recently erupted in controversy, when a letter sent by the Tamer campaign featured an image of Hicks that sparked outrage and accusations of racism. On the flyer, Hicks, who is black, was in black and white, while Tamer, who is Arab-American, was in color.

Hicks has spoken publicly about his experience with rent issues, tweet after an affordable housing event earlier this month, “as a deportee and housing insecurity, #politicalpersonal. In a text Thursday, Hicks said she had spoken publicly about the matter often, but couldn’t say exactly how many times.

The Tamer campaign declined to comment for this story.

In 2019, there was a detailed paper trail detailing how Hicks’ current owner, Bell Olmsted Park LLC., Has tried to chase her away. In February, for example, legal documents from the landlord’s attorney indicated that her tenancy would be terminated 30 days from the date she received the notice due to over $ 2,500 in overdue rents.

The efforts culminated in June when Hicks received an eviction notice, issued by a police officer, informing her that she had 48 hours to vacate the property. Two days later, Hicks wrote in sworn court documents that she had already paid off rent for April and May. She has pledged to pay her June rent in full for her apartment at 161 South Huntington Ave., where she currently lives, by the middle of the month.

In this case, Hicks told The Globe that she had tried to pay her rent in full, but the management company claimed it never received her check, which she says it mailed. She said she filed a bank letter in court confirming her attempted payment. Rent was paid in full on top of “unnecessary legal fees, which could have been avoided if they had waited a few days for the check to arrive,” Hicks said.

In early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the region, another eviction complaint was filed in housing court against Hicks. Again, this concerned the alleged non-payment of rent for his Jamaican Plain unit; the landlord claimed that over $ 2,534 was owed.

Shortly after that case was brought to court, she paid the rent she owed and the case was dismissed at the landlord’s request, Hicks said.

And just last August, her landlord sent a notice to her apartment, stating that the rental of the unit would be terminated 30 days after the notice of non-payment of $ 1,443 in rent, according to city documents.

Mandatory nonprofit filings with state attorney general’s office show Hicks won over $ 80,000 as co-director of radical philanthropy for Resist Inc. in 2020. Hicks said her gross household income was $ 93,000 last year.

Hicks’ unit is subject to income restrictions; it is tied to a regional median income cap, or MOI, that households are not expected to exceed.

Hicks said she had to recertify her eligibility to renew her lease each December and acknowledged in her statement that this year, “it is likely that our family will not meet the income criteria, and we will have to find new housing in there. ‘expiration of our lease “.

In October 2013, a similar story of rent problems appeared to be playing out in Braintree, according to documents filed in Quincy District Court. At that time, the owner of Hicks stated that she intended to end the rental and she should vacate her apartment no later than December 1 of the same year.

In the Braintree case, Hicks said she was “fleeing a situation of domestic violence” and paid the part of the rent she could pay at the time. She eventually made a deal with the landlord to move out and pay $ 550 in rent back.

Some housing advocates say eviction proceedings such as those experienced by Hicks should not have negative connotations for tenants, including any candidacy for public office.

The system, in many ways, is broken and racist, said City Councilor Lydia Edwards, a former housing lawyer who now owns a home, speaks in general about the state’s eviction processes. Edwards did not support anyone in the Hicks board race.

Black women in Massachusetts are 2.5 times more likely to be deported than white women, she said. This statistic doesn’t mean that black women are more likely to be bad renters, Edwards said, but it does mean they’re “less likely to benefit from a softer landing in our system today.”

“Other groups facing a level playing field are more likely to have a second or third chance, more time, resources and negotiated deals than black women,” Edwards said.

Another systemic failure of the eviction process is that eviction records are public and permanent, said Edwards, who is currently running for a seat in the state Senate. Edwards prefers to seal certain eviction cases, especially documents that do not reflect a judgment in a case.

“Someone who has something to do with them doesn’t mean anything,” she said.

Massachusetts, she said, should take a closer look “at how this system punishes people for the rest of their lives.” … It’s cruel.

Meanwhile, a trio of lawyers from Greater Boston Legal Services recently said in a joint statement that they “strongly disagreed with any implication that an eviction should disqualify someone from holding office. public “.

“Here in Boston, research shows evictions are disproportionately occurring in communities of color and evictions during the pandemic have deepened pre-existing and stark racial disparities in the housing market,” they said in a statement. .

Hicks topped the preliminary contest in September, garnering 49% of the vote against 43% for Tamer. Winnie AI Eke came in third with 6% and was eliminated. About 18,400 people voted in these preliminaries.


Danny McDonald can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @Danny__McDonald.



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