Statement by Eugene Jones, Jr., about Special Housing Working Group report at City of Toronto Executive Committee

Statement by Eugene Jones, Jr., about Special Housing Working Group report at City of Toronto Executive Committee

October 09, 2012

Statement by Eugene E. Jones, Jr., President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing

City of Toronto Executive Committee

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Check against delivery

Good afternoon everyone.

I want to begin by thanking on behalf of all Toronto Community Housing employees and residents Councillor Ana Bailao and the Special Housing Working Group members for their hard work in putting together this report.

The working group has clearly framed Toronto Community Housing's challenges: we need more money to pay for repairs to fix our buildings, and we need it soon.

Every resident of Toronto Community Housing deserves to live in a clean, safe, well-maintained home. Yet delivering this standard of housing to our residents will remain an elusive goal as long as Toronto Community Housing does not have sustainable funding to maintain all our buildings in good repair.

Toronto Community Housing is committed to stretching the dollars that we do have as responsibly and effectively as possible. But without new money, within five years many more of our older buildings will have declined into a state of critical disrepair. They will be unsafe to live in and far too costly to fix.

To put it bluntly, doing nothing is not an option. So, we welcome the working group's recommendations for generating new revenues and look forward to continuing to work with the City to address the capital repair backlog.

I am prepared to pursue as many new approaches and opportunities as we can, if that's what it takes to generate the money we need to fix our housing and close the gap on our $751-million capital backlog.

In the meantime, Toronto Community Housing is already doing things differently. We agree with the key thrust of the report: putting residents first.

But one example is the repair blitz program we will launch this fall. We will use $11.5 million in proceeds from asset sales in 2011 and 2012 currently in our State of Good Repair Fund to make much-needed repairs that will benefit up to 16,000 households in 80 buildings across the city over the next two years.

Today, things are different at Toronto Community Housing. While we still have a way to go to reach our goal of delivering social housing in Toronto better than it has ever been done before, there is new leadership, open communications, better connection with the communities we serve, and a stronger focus on transparency and accountability. This is creating a strong platform for change.

As President and CEO, my job is to lead the changes that need to be made so that the company can achieve that goal and be a landlord of excellence.

Councillors too many of our residents live in substandard housing. That must change. The working group's report can shape and guide that change. To those residents here today: thank you for coming and for making your voices heard.

In closing, I look forward to working with City Council, with my staff and our residents, and with our many partners to find solutions that improve the state of repair of our housing and build healthy, vibrant communities.

Read the Special Housing Working Group report on the City of Toronto website.