From upgrading security cameras to improving building conditions, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation announced more than 70 fixes to improve the lives of its residents.
In a statement issued Thursday, TCHC said the 71 initiatives "will produce tangible and sustained improvements for residents by the end of 2015 and into 2016 in the areas of safety and security, building conditions, jobs and opportunities for residents, and customer service."
TCHC Chair Brad Purves and interim CEO Greg Spearn presented their plan, titled Getting it Done: Real Change at Toronto Community Housing, to Mayor John Tory this morning. The plan is in response to the Mayor's Task Force on Toronto Community Housing that has heard from more than 1,200 TCHC residents since January of this year. More than 50,000 people live in the housing provider's 2,200 buildings.
TCHC is struggling with a massive capital repair backlog, estimated at around $1.7 billion. In July, the city announced nearly $400 million in funding for housing repairs through mortgage re-financing for the next two years.
The agency said that over the last several months it has already made a number of improvements, from striking up a partnership with Crime Stoppers to educate residents about reporting crime anonymously to hiring 60 new cleaners.
The agency has also increased the number of pest management treatments by 74 per cent "while costs per treatment and the number of needed treatments per infestation are both down — all with significantly improved success rates."
TCHC says 20 additional initiatives will be put in place by the end of this year. They include:
- Providing rebates to 1,200 rent-geared-to-income households that pay for their own electric heating.
- Establishing a new deployment model for Community Patrol Officers that "will see them permanently assigned to one of 20 patrol zones, resulting in more time in communities with residents."
- Upgrading 521 of 5,500 security cameras to full digital, with 50 additional cameras installed in 17 communities, home to 14,000 residents.
- Improving after-hours building access for contractors repairing elevators, and installing measures to reset elevators more quickly after fire alarms.
Evictions for 'anti-social behaviour'
Purves and Spearn are also asking the city to make changes to the Housing Services Act, the Trespass to Property Act and the Municipal Freedom and Information and Protection of Privacy Act which "would allow us to deny someone previously evicted for anti-social behaviour from being re-housed by Toronto Community Housing."
If it gets additional funding, TCHC promises to expand or introduce youth sports programs,job creation initiatives, Hiring additional Community Patrol Officers also depends on additional funding.
"Now I have to come up with money to finance" the initiatives, Tory told CBC Here And Now host Gill Deacon, adding that "what's missing is adequate levels of funding" from the province and the federal government.
The mayor said he understands the skepticism of some TCHC residents to today's announcement but asked them to "be fair" considering that several fixes have been made or are underway.
"Our Getting it done report builds on our strengths as a company to change and improve how we deliver service to residents, how we collaborate with residents as our partners, and how we provide value to the people of Toronto," Spearn said in the statement.