The final report from the John Tory’s task force on Toronto Community Housing includes 29 recommendations geared at saving what the mayor called a “fundamentally broken model.”
The recommendations aim at decentralizing operations of the corporation to address the needs of residents at the building- and community-level.
The housing task force report specifically calls for a new non-profit entity called New Home, which would take over management of TCH properties once they become “viable” or in a state of good repair.
New Home would be an independent community-based non-profit corporation.
“We propose that this new housing corporation should be off the city’s books,” said Art Eggleton, a senator at the head of the community housing task force.
By doing this Eggleton says the corporation would no longer be limited by the rules that prohibit the city from running a deficit.
Mayor Tory called the recommendation a “better model” that gives autonomy to the corporation, and could, he believes, make it more effective.
“Politicians have been too inclined to get involved in the day to day affairs [of TCH],” said Tory at a news conference Tuesday morning.
The report proposes two ways of implementing New Home. The first model would see the city create the new community-based non-profit now and eventually transfer the TCH properties to it.
Whereas the second model, would see the existing TCH remain, but get divided into three distinct divisions that would form separate functions. The report recommends making those distinctions operations, development and corporate services.
Mayor says more residents need a say
The Mayor said residents showed that they want to be more involved by showing up in the hundreds to several meetings the task force has held over the past year.
“We need to take much better care of TCH residents and make sure they can make decisions that affect their lives,” said Tory.
Tory added that he believes that TCH staff are stretched too thin and that in adapting the task force’s recommendations, more responsibility should be transferred to people in individual buildings and communities.
The Mayor plans to take the recommendations to the Executive Committee this week so that a plan can be developed by the spring, but he says that the community housing model can’t be fixed by the city alone.
Tory argued that Toronto will need help from the provincial and federal government in order to get out from under the $1.7 billion worth of repairs needed in TCH buildings.
Other recommendations from the task force include:
– Creating mixed-income communities.
– Getting better buildings and more of them.
– Reforming the rent geared income (RGI) system.
Tory appointed the independent six-person task force a year ago to review existing frameworks within the corporation and make recommendations on how it can deliver better quality housing to residents.
The task force released an interim report last summer in which it made seven recommendations:
– Secure additional funding to move forward on the 10-year capital repair program.
– Create an action plan to increase safety and security.
– Create an action plan to improve building conditions.
– Create an action plan to provide more jobs and opportunities for residents.
– Create an action plan for more effective training for TCHC staff and contractors.
– Work with residents to create a ‘resident charter’ and review the tenant engagement system.
– Hire a chief operating officer.
The TCHC responded to that report with their own action plan last September called Getting it Done: Real Change at Toronto Community Housing. The plan included more than 70 fixes aimed at improving the lives of residences from upgrading security cameras to improving building conditions.
More than 50,000 people live in the TCHC’s 2,200 buildings.