The Future of Toronto Community Housing – Tenants First Plan approved by City Council

Last July, in response to the report Tenants First: A Way Forward for Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) and Social Housing in Toronto, Council adopted a set of strategic directions and requested an implementation plan to support the City's efforts to provide clean, safe, well-maintained, affordable homes to social housing tenants. As part of the earlier work, I was pleased that City Council passed my motion to ensure that we commit to providing the level of funding needed to improve and sustain TCHC, but also to ensure that the continued work towards accomplishing the above goals keeps the future of tenants, accountability, and equity at the heart of the process.

At City Council earlier this week, I was pleased that the report on Phase 1 of the Implementation Plan was approved. I was also pleased that City Council approved my motion to, as part of this week, direct Toronto Community Housing to ensure that no additional units are permanently closed in 2018 and 2019, and that a focus on tenant-decision making structures must be part of the ongoing implementation work for the new configuration of Toronto Community Housing, and any new entities created.

Over the last 12 months, the project team, in partnership with an Advisory Group of TCHC residents, further developed proposals to improve Toronto Community Housing, including to provide it with the resources needed to truly provide safe, clean, well-maintained and affordable homes to so many of our friends and neighbours.

The key components of the plan include:

- Transition of the 83-Seniors only buildings within TCHC to a new Seniors' Housing and Services agency, separate from TCHC and closer to the City (in accountability and day-to-day operations);
- A report back in the fall with an interim operating and capital funding model for TCHC to address current and short-term funding shortfalls for 2018 and 2019, as well as a permanent funding formula for the New TCHC and new Seniors Housing and Services entity;
- Moving forward with a local service model pilot program at TCHC to focus on decentralizing property/housing management services and innovative approaches to community development, including local action plans; and
- Authorization for City staff to issue a Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) to the non-profit, co-op and land trust sectors seeking interest, service models, and business cases for the operation of the 684 scattered social housing properties, including Agency Houses and Rooming Houses and report with a recommended strategy by the end of 2017.

Over the coming months, I will be sharing information with many of our neighbours who live in TCHC communities to ensure that the details of the plan are fully understood. 

The next step in the process is a follow-up report this fall, which will provide more detail on the above changes, as well as others.

As you have no doubt heard me say before, we are now at the most severe point in the TCHC funding crisis to date. In 2018, money for capital repairs, to address the over $2 billion backlog at TCHC, will run out. These are repairs to the homes of thousands of our neighbours, repairs that make their homes liveable. In 2018, the money runs out – and units are in danger of closing. This is not acceptable. We cannot let it happen.

What are the other levels of government doing? The Federal Government has promised funds, but details are yet to be confirmed. And the Provincial Government is absent – they have made no commitment to provide any funding for these desperately needed repairs within TCHC. They must come to the table and fulfill their obligation to all residents of Toronto.

Let me be clear. Even without the partnership of the Federal and Provincial governments, we cannot let a single TCHC unit close in 2018. We must do more as a City if our government counterparts don't step up. The situation is too serious, the safety of our friends and neighbours too important.

I will continue to advocate strongly and loudly to push the Federal and Provincial governments to help TCHC. I will also fight to ensure that not a single unit is closed in 2018.

If you'd like to help, please consider writing to your MP and MPP to advocate for the desperately needed funds for our social housing system and to Mayor Tory to let him know that closing TCHC units is 2018 is unacceptable. 

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