Remarks by Interim President and CEO Greg Spearn on Action Plans

Remarks by Interim President and CEO Greg Spearn on Action Plans

September 10, 2015


Thank you, Mister Chair. And thank you, Mayor Tory and members of the Mayor's Task Force for your support.

In its interim report, the Task Force gave us 60 days to develop action plans that will deliver noticeable improvements in safety and security, building conditions, jobs and opportunities for residents, and customer service.

The Task Force singled out these areas because they are the big ones...the ones residents notice every day....and the ones where improvements will make the biggest difference.

Since Day One, we have been glad that Mayor Tory called for this Task Force. The Task Force is shedding light on all the work that has been going on at Toronto Community Housing-and the real challenges that we face.

And, most importantly, they are helping to drive lasting solutions. I am hopeful that their work this fall will bring solutions to the fundamental problem facing us: a lack of sufficient resources to keep our buildings maintained and provide the supports that Toronto Community Housing residents need.

It's no secret Toronto Community Housing has been through some turbulent years. We've seen four CEOs since 2010, a whole new board in 2011, the departure of dozens of senior managers, and a number of investigations, reports and legacy issues that had to be dealt with.

But as the Chair noted in his remarks, with support from the board and the City, over the past 18 months the company has first stabilized, and then moved forward. We have been pushing hard to improve our housing and our services to our residents. Some of the initiatives in our report are already in place.

For example:

� 60 new cleaners started work in August, including 25 in high-needs buildings.

� We formed a new partnership with Toronto Crime Stoppers to educate residents about reporting crime anonymously.

� Our pest management strategy is making dramatic improvements for residents. Treatment volumes are up, while costs and the number of needed treatments are both down.

� To support economic opportunities for residents, we changed our processes to allow direct awards to resident-led businesses of contracts under $100,000.

In fact, we have had a lot of plans in the works for some time, particularly programs and supports for residents. But we need funding to do them.

You see, we only get funding from the City to be a landlord. But City Council and the people of Toronto expect Toronto Community Housing to be much more than a landlord. This is a constant tension we deal with every day: the balance between spending money to make critical and long-overdue capital repairs to our buildings or using money to provide critical and sorely needed services and supports for residents.

One of the realities emerging from the work of the Task Force is that City Council and the provincial government need to agree on a new funding model for the services and supports that Toronto Community Housing residents need.

We call the report we are releasing today Getting it done: Real change at Toronto Community Housing. Because we mean it, and because it is true. Among other things, it demonstrates what we are about as a company. It shows we have the expertise and vision to deliver real change for residents, provided we have the resources and organizational stability to see these plans through.

I believe that the Mayor, the Task Force and others recognize this and will extend their support to help us break through long-standing barriers and get the right partners to the table.

Some of the solutions in our action plans are straightforward. Others will be harder fixes to make. One of the most important things we have to do is work with residents as our partners to make many of these improvements.

We will get this done. We will start many of the action items now by reallocating current resources. Where new funding is needed, we will develop business cases and bring them forward in our 2016 internal budget process or directly to the City or to the Task Force in the second half of its work.

There are many more improvements residents will notice this year:

� 18 additional Community Patrol Officers will be on the ground; our officers will be spending more time in communities, building more trust and rapport with residents, and conducting safety audits in 10 communities with major safety needs.

� 521 of our 5,500 security cameras will be upgraded to full digital, with 50 additional cameras installed in 17 communities.

� Elevator service will improve through a range of measures. We've already started work to replace 19 aging elevators, including 17 in five high-needs buildings.

� Maintenance repairs will get done faster because a centralized dispatch, staffed by superintendents who know their stuff, will send out the best vendor to do the work and do it right the first time.

� 10,000 residents will get a phone call after repairs are done in their homes this year under the expanded Closing the Loop program, asking for feedback, so we can continuously get better at our work.

� The 1,200 RGI households that pay for their own electric heat will get financial support from us this year as we work on a long-term solution for next year.

� An enhanced evictions for cause procedure will help us more aggressively pursue evictions of those who commit serious crimes on our properties.

� Customer service standards and the principles of a Resident Charter, jointly defined with resident input, will be developed before the end of 2015.

� We will complete consultations with residents on a long-delayed process to renew the way we engage residents in decision-making about their communities and about improving services. We will bring the findings to our board in December-truly drawing on the strengths and insights of our residents.

And there's more. If we can secure new funding support through our 2016 budget process either directly from the City, through partnerships or a fully funded capital repair plan:

� We will hire 94 new Community Safety Unit staff, beginning in June 2016.

� We will upgrade all our building security systems and our 5,500 CCTV cameras.

� We will replace the 140 elevators in most urgent need of replacement by the end of 2018.

� We will hire more Community Services Coordinators, who work hard to connect vulnerable residents with excessive clutter and vulnerability issues to the supports they need.

� We will work with private sector partners to re-energize 11 existing facilities and transform them into community hubs at locations across the city.

By the end of the year, we want residents to experience cleaner buildings, faster response times when they call the Client Care Centre, more reliable elevator service, Community Safety Unit officers more visible in their communities, improved building security systems, more opportunities for jobs and training, and more courteous and respectful service.

We will deliver. We have detailed metrics and targets that will clearly mark our progress, and we will be reporting regularly and publicly to our Board of Directors.

To conclude, I would like to acknowledge and thank our employees. Four interdivisional teams and close to 100 team members did a tremendous amount of hard work over the summer to put these plans together. And the work of our dedicated and committed front-line staff will make the plans a success. They will have the unqualified support of their executive team as these action plans are translated into real results.

Our Getting it done report builds on our strengths as a company to change and improve how we deliver services to residents, how we collaborate with residents as our partners, and how we provide real value to the people of this city.

I am proud to be here on behalf of our leadership team and our employees to present our Getting it done report to Mayor Tory and the Task Force...with, I might add, a couple of days to spare.

This is "real change at Toronto Community Housing."

Thank you.

--end of remarks--