2023 Candidate for Cambridge City Council
1. Experience with Cambridge nonprofits. Do you have work or volunteer experience with Cambridge nonprofits?
No. I am a board member of Riverside Community Care, which conducts business in Cambridge. Riverside provides innovative and compassionate behavioral healthcare and human services to Cambridge, Somerville, and many other MA towns. Riverside serves adults and children in our communities for their needs in mental health, substance use, developmental disabilities, suicide prevention, etc. Moreover, as a leader, I worked for a not-for-profit organization in the past three-plus years throughout the Pandemic in New York City. My not-for-profit experience includes leading community efforts to provide safety net health and human services to people with severe mental illness, substance abuse, opioid abuse, and homelessness. At any given time in the past three years, more than 3,000 New Yorkers across all five boroughs have called my organization their home. We ran the only veteran shelter in NYC, and we operate facilities such as congregate housing and single-resident occupancy housing for the unhoused. I have the experience in working with our not-for-profits to tackle the emerging crisis in mental health, substance use, suicide prevention, and homelessness.
2. Valuing nonprofit expertise. Cambridge nonprofits deliver programs and services across a wide range of missions, from early education and youth development, to affordable housing production and management, arts and culture exposure and education, food security, environmental preservation, civic engagement (or community involvement), and much more. As a result, nonprofit leaders and staff are often well positioned to advise the City on program policies related to their clients and consumers. Will you use your position on the City Council to ensure that the City incorporates the voice and expertise of nonprofit leaders into planning around current City priorities?
Yes. For Cambridge to continue being an inclusive, livable city, we must rely on our not-for-profits as the glue that holds us together. We have a compounding crisis of homelessness, opioid abuse, and rising housing costs. To be a vibrant community, we must pay more attention to early education and youth development. We must support our nonprofit leaders who care about our environmental preservation, civic engagement, and food security. In the past many years, I have studied the social determinants of health, including food security, transportation, and housing security. To realize our dream in Envision Cambridge, nonprofits are playing one of the crucial roles that we city councilors must support.
3. Limiting application of Anti-Aid Amendment. With the exception of contracts for services, the Anti-Aid Amendment of the MA Constitution prohibits municipalities from directly distributing funds raised through taxation to nonprofits. While the City provides financial support to nonprofits through contracting, this approach increased administrative burdens, can cause cash-flow issues due to payment delays, and limits creativity in developing new funding opportunities. It also can create an incentive for the City to start new initiatives rather than invest in programs already well established in the community. Will you use your position on the City Council to limit the application of the Anti-Aid Amendment to tax generated revenue only, in order to maximize the resources available to Cambridge nonprofits?
I don't know. I advocate the proper governance of nonprofits and sound fiscal disciplines. All funds above the specific limit disbursed by municipalities should be contracted out via competitive bids, which include funds to nonprofits. We prefer nonprofits in specific policy areas, such as affordable housing development, but through competitive bidding, transparent reporting, and prudent monitoring. My firm belief in nonprofits is that our best-run nonprofits, such as Riverside Community Care, will emerge as winners throughout the competent process.
4. Attending to nonprofit workforce challenges. According to CNC's December 2022 survey of Cambridge nonprofits, (70%) reported open positions and over a third (36%) said they lacked the funding to fill them, comprising their ability to meet service demands. Do you believe the City Council can play a role in helping nonprofits recruit and retain high quality staff?
Yes. We have leading institutions such as Harvard Kennedy School and Tufts School of Diplomacy that mean to prepare our leaders in nonprofits. I advocate stronger internship programs with them for the brightest students there to be move involved in our nonprofits in the communities.
5. ARPA investments in nonprofits. While Cambridge nonprofits are grateful for the City committing millions of ARPA dollars to local organizations, concerns have been raised both about the slow pace of releasing funds into the community and a lack of information being shared broadly regarding their progress. Will you use your position on the City Council to expedite this process and ensure there is greater transparency going forward?
Yes. My platform indicates a competent government is vital to our Envision Cambridge. If the reason for the slow release of the fund is due to undue bureaucracy or incompetent processes, as your city councilor I will address it at my highest priority.