Statement by Greg Spearn, Interim President and CEO on the interim report of the Mayor's Task Force on Toronto Community Ho

Statement by Greg Spearn, Interim President and CEO on the interim report of the Mayor's Task Force on Toronto Community Ho

July 16, 2015

Summary:

Toronto Community Housing welcomes this report. We know that Senator Eggleton and the other members of the Task Force have done a tremendous amount of work and taken a "deep dive" into our company to understand how we operate, the unique role we have as Toronto's public housing provider, and, most importantly, where and how we can improve.

July 16, 2015
Toronto Community Housing welcomes this report. We know that Senator Eggleton and the other members of the Task Force have done a tremendous amount of work and taken a "deep dive" into our company to understand how we operate, the unique role we have as Toronto's public housing provider, and, most importantly, where and how we can improve.

In working with the Task Force over the past six months, TCHC staff made more than 40 presentations on all aspects of our operations, supported the task force to visit many of our buildings, and responded to more than 150 requests for information.

We have literally opened all our doors and our filing cabinets to the task force's scrutiny - which, I believe, has provided them with some valuable context to first understand our challenges, then make their recommendations. We sincerely thank the Task Force for that.

As a landlord, we own and operate some 50 million square feet of residential space. We house more than 110,000 tenants in 2,200 buildings across this city and are the second largest residential landlord in North America, next only to the New York City Housing Authority.

And it is no secret that many of our buildings are over 50 years old and in serious need of repair - they are, in many ways, falling apart.

The demographics of our resident population - youth, single-parent families, seniors, and some of the city's most marginalized and vulnerable residents - require that we connect residents to services, supports and programs in the community, often with limited resources. This is not the role of a typical landlord and it presents its own set of special challenges, which we willingly embrace.

Toronto Community Housing appreciates that the Task Force recognizes the considerable progress made over the past 14 months to tackle legacy issues, and stabilize and rebuild the company. This includes, for example:​
  • hiring more Community Service Coordinators, Community Safety Unit Special Constables, and building cleaners
  • improving response times in our 24/7 Client Care Centre by 79%
  • completing 450,000 demand maintenance repairs
  • making hundreds of millions of dollars of capital repairs across our portfolio
  • creating 1,100 jobs for local residents through our Revitalization projects such as Regent Park
  • providing training and job placement programs, financial literacy training, skills development and scholarships programs benefiting more than 1,200 young people
  • offering a free summer baseball day camp to 1,200 children in 50 TCHC communities in partnership with the Jays Care Foundation and the Toronto Blue Jays
  • upgrading and adding 570 high resolution digital security cameras, with $3 million spent in 2015 alone
  • implementing feedback programs for residents to rate the response times and quality of unit repairs to better assess and manage our contractors
  • improving our Integrated Pest Management approach which treats infestations as well as the root causes
  • and many others.

All of us at Toronto Community Housing take pride in what we do. Our employees embrace our vision of better housing, better services and a better Toronto for all. They work hard to maintain our buildings and serve residents within tight financial constraints. In short, they want to help, in part because it's in their DNA. As a management team, we need to do more to better support our employees through improved systems, expanded training and more resources to the frontline.

But while much has been done to improve our performance and strengthen our capacity, we fully acknowledge that we're only a part of the way towards providing the homes residents deserve and meeting the standards the City and the public expect. The recommendations in the Task Force's interim report will help guide, focus and prioritize our efforts.

Toronto Community Housing will carefully and deliberately review this report and respond fully to the Task Force's call for action plans within 60 days. Wherever we can reallocate resources to achieve immediate results, we will. Where more investments are needed, we'll begin discussions with the City about finding those resources and including them in our 2016 budget.

As the Task Force found, Toronto Community Housing works in a highly regulated environment. This is both a challenge and frustration - and a number of those challenges are the unintended consequences of past practices and past thinking. With the city, we will continue to engage the provincial government and convince them to make legislative or regulatory changes that can enable us to provide better housing and services to residents.

We look forward to real progress in the next six months and a final Task Force report in December that anchors our path toward being a better provider of good homes for families.