The City Executive Committee report on the future of TCHC is out

The City Executive Committee report on the future of TCHC is now available. You can find it here:

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2016.EX16.11

Next week’s Executive Committee meeting will be packed and will likely be a long one (up to three days), but it’s important that we are there to have our experiences/feedback accounted for in this process to make sure that tenants are being engaged in a meaningful way.

It’s IMPORTANT that TENANTS SPEAK to the Committee – because of the packed agenda, prepare for presentations to be limited to three (3) minutes, instead of the standard 5.

To REGISTER to speak to the Committee, you need to contact staff before Monday at 12:00pm by emailing exc@toronto.ca or call 416-392-4666 and letting them know you want to speak to agenda item “EX16.11”. PLEASE LET US KNOW if you have registered and/or if you NEED HELP registering.

The number points are the recommendations from the City’s report to Council regarding implementing recommendations of the Task Force on Housing. The position of Tenants for Social Housing is indicated by T4SH POSITION:

1.       Nothing in the report can happen if there isn’t the funding available and the City has a role in funding part of this, along with other levels of government

T4SH POSITION: Direct City involvement means more security around funding than a non-profit. The City has more tools to raise large amounts of money for housing than a non-profit does, whether it chooses to use them or not.

2.       The City report recommends that the City and TCHC do a detailed asset review that includes which buildings need renovations, which need replacement, which may be transferred and who is best to operate them

T4SH POSITION: they are not recommending selling any housing to private market, BUT the idea of selling some of TCHC was in the second recommendation of the Mayor’s Task Force on TCHC, so a Councillor will likely raise this issue through the political process. We need to make sure that City staff’s commitment to NOT HAVING a large fire-sale or large transfer of housing away from the City stays true.

3.       The City report recommends that most of the housing stock stays in TCHC, BUT

a.       it is recommended that a small portion of housing be transitioned to a new community based non-profit to prove out this idea (up to 5,000 units)

i.      their goal would be to try and see if this works, to get the evidence of success, and if it’s successful they would look at transitioning more housing

ii.      this would be done with the involvement of tenants

iii.      they don’t have advice on which parts of housing this involves and instead want to have a process that includes tenants to decide

iv.      nothing happens until the review

b.      They recommend that some additional part of housing transition to existing non-profits (up to 5,000 units)

i.       this too would include tenants and would have discussion about which parts of housing would make more sense to be transitioned (seniors housing?)

ii.      nothing happens until the review

T4SH POSITION: This has the potential of losing up to 10,000 homes from direct City accountability. There still isn’t strong clarity on why this would be better for tenants. Can this not be achieved through better decentralization within TCHC? How do we make sure that there is strong accountability to tenants and through our democratic process of engaging City Hall through our Councillors? Is this going to be a slow process of moving more homes out of direct City accountability through TCHC?

4.       The City report recommends that there be more mixed communities created within TCHC and social housing as a whole

T4SH POSITION: We need to make sure that this doesn’t mean losing the overall number of RGI units, and that any mixing would be done through the creation of additional housing. We also need to make sure that there are resources put towards supporting community building efforts in mixed communities to tackle stigmatization of RGI/TCHC

5.       The City report recommends that there are more and better buildings, including more revitalizations in Etobicoke, York and Scarborough

T4SH POSITION: We need to make sure that this doesn’t mean losing the overall number of RGI units, that any mixing would be done through the creation of additional housing. We also need to make sure that there are resources put towards supporting community building efforts in mixed communities to tackle stigmatization of RGI/TCHC.

6.       The City report recommends that there is decentralization of operations and creation of an “innovation lab” that actively engages tenants and innovates solutions based on feedback of tenants

a.       to try out new options and ideas from tenants

T4SH POSITION: Tenants need to have a meaningful role in this that goes beyond rubber stamping ideas and token positions on committees, and involves space for co-creation, decision making and monitoring of accountability

7.       The City report recommends that there are strengthened partnerships

a.       partnerships with Local Health Integration Network, community based services providers and other City departments to make sure tenants are getting the supports and services they need

b.      services to match needs of tenants and to not have it bottle-necked in certain communities

T4SH POSITION: Tenants should be actively and meaningfully engaged in the process of identifying, approving and monitoring/evaluating partnerships to make sure that they are meeting their goals and the needs of tenants

8.       The City report recommends that RGI reform happen, and that a portable housing benefit model be considered

a.       not recommending changes in service levels (number of housing units)

b.      want power to come back to tenants – tenants to have a choice in their housing

T4SH POSITION: Need to reinforce that portable housing benefit is in addition to what is provided and shouldn’t be a replacement for existing homes. Also need to make sure that proper accountability structures are in place outside of TCHC (like landlord licensing) because there is an assumption that things are better elsewhere, when they could be worse.

9.       The City report recommends that there be greater clarity on TCHC mandate and responsibilities re: shareholder direction

T4SH POSITION: Agree on this and they should give a stronger role to tenants within the organization, including electing more tenants to the Board who have a stronger relationship with tenants and any tenant advisory group that regularly consults with tenants throughout the TCHC portfolio.

10.   The City report recommends the creation and acceptance of a tenant advisory group that would guide the development of the implementation process within the City.

T4SH POSITION: Agree on this but need to make sure that tenants are actively and meaningfully engaged in the process beyond being token representatives on a group. Tenants should have power in helping identify/recommend, approve and monitor/evaluate work to make sure that they are meeting their goals and the needs of tenants. This cannot be a replication of the tenant rep system or the PB process.  This tenant advisory group on its own can be a very weak form of participation and collaboration unless it includes current, active tenants who are involved, have existing connections with their communities, and have the ability and commitment to consult with tenants throughout this process. In addition, the City needs to be clear about the supports that will be available for tenants and the City should confirm its commitment to allow for objective and critical thinking that will actually support real improvements for tenants living in TCHC.

11.   Timelines

a.       Report needs approval from June 28 Executive Committee meeting

b.      If report passes Executive Committee meeting, it needs approval from City Council in July

c.       If report passes City Council, the tenant advisory group would be struck in the summer

d.      Staff would need to present a City committee (Executive) with a final report by first quarter of 2017

e.      Reminder that all of this is led by the City and not TCHC

PLEASE connect with us if you’re able to be involved in helping get tenants to the meeting next week on June 28. This is a really important time for the future of tenants in TCHC and we have a chance to shape the process to make sure it really does put tenants first.

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