The Toronto Community Housing Corporation has presented Mayor John Tory and his task force on social housing with a list of 71 measures that it could take to improve the standard of living in its buildings; however a number of them are contingent on additional funding for the cash-strapped agency.

Some of the measures on the list that are already underway or will be implemented by the end of 2015 include installing 50 new cameras and upgrading 521 others, hiring 18 additional community patrol officers, completing 10 additional safety audits in troubled communities, expanding the Close the Loop program - in which TCHC officials contact residents to gauge their satisfaction with recent repairs - and hiring 60 new cleaners - 25 of which will work in high-needs buildings.

The list also includes a number of other measures that could be implemented by the end of 2016 if the TCHC is granted an additional $14 million in funding.

Some of those measures include hiring 94 new community safety unit staff, replacing 140 elevators that are in urgent need of repairs, turning 11 existing TCHC facilities into community hubs and hiring additional community services coordinators to help connect vulnerable residents with clutter issues with the supports they need.

“We only get funding from the city to be a landlord but city council and the people of Toronto expect the TCHC to be much more than a landlord. That’s the constant tension we deal with every day, the balance between spending money to make critical and long-overdue repairs to our buildings or using money to provide critical and sorely needed services and supports for our residents,” Interim TCHC CEO Greg Spearn told reporters in outlining the proposed measures on Thursday afternoon. “City council and the provincial government need to agree on a new funding model for the services and supports that TCHC residents need.”

In July, the task force led by Senator Art Eggleton released an interim report that raised serious questions about the safety and overall standard of living in Toronto’s public housing buildings and gave the TCHC 60 days to provide an action plan on how to implement its recommendations.

Speaking with reporters, Spearn said that the TCHC has already been working to implement some of the recommendations contained in the task force report and will now begin work to address others by reallocating some resources and developing business cases for new funding, either from the city or other partnerships.

“By the end of the year we want residents to experience cleaner buildings, faster response times, more reliable elevator services, more visible community safety officers, more opportunities for jobs and training and more courteous and respectful service,” he said.

TCHC also taking steps to provide residents with work opportunities

In addition to taking steps to improve the safety and condition of TCHC buildings, Spearn also said that work is underway to provide additional work opportunities for residents, which was an issue that was raised in the task force report.

Some of the specific measures contained in the TCHC report, include the establishment of a new policy that allows contracts for goods and services under $100,000 to be awarded directly you resident-led businesses and a an already-in-place commitment to ensuring that 15 per cent of TCHC employees - including in senior management - are residents. Spearn also said that work is underway to hold sessions for residents to better prepare them to apply for jobs with the TCHC.

“This is real change at the TCHC,” he proclaimed.

Tory says TCHC off to a good start

Discussing the measures contained in the TCHC report on the whole, Mayor John Tory said it is a “beginning and not an end” but is nonetheless “a very, very good start.”

“This all about providing a basic standard of living for some of our most vulnerable citizens,” he said.

“Living in a clean home, having a safe place to live, feeling safe in your community; these are the basic kinds of standards that most Torontonians live within every day and I think people in TCHC have not lived in those circumstances and for some reason have been led to believe that they don’t have the right to expect that. Everybody without exception in this city has the right to feel and be secure in their homes.”

The TCHC task force is expected to present its final report in December. It will provide recommendations on how the TCHC can improve its governance structure.

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