Toronto Community Housing Acting CEO Keiko Nakamura today responded to the death of tenant Al Gosling.
"It is with great sadness that Toronto Community Housing has learned about the death of Al Gosling. Mr. Gosling had a home to return to at Toronto Community Housing, and we regret he wasn't able to come home. On behalf of Toronto Community Housing, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Mr. Gosling's family and friends for this loss," Nakamura said.
Nakamura announced that the organization will hold an independent third-party review of the organization's response and the broader factors that can put vulnerable tenancies in jeopardy.
"Social housing plays a crucial role, providing quality housing for low- and moderate-income households and creating conditions that maximize resiliency and reduce risk. For that reason, it is absolutely crucial that the public have confidence in the integrity of the system and have confidence in housing providers like us," Nakamura said."Toronto Community Housing is an open, transparent organization. We have made a commitment to review this sad situation to ensure this organization is doing everything it can to make every tenancy a successful tenancy, especially for vulnerable tenants. It is my hope that the independent, third-party review will shed a light on the response to Mr. Gosling's situation as well as the broader policy, legislative and regulatory factors that need to be considered," she said.
The leader of the review will be announced in the near future.
About Toronto Community Housing
Toronto Community Housing is the second largest social housing provider in North America and the largest in Canada. We are home to more than 164,000 tenants with low and moderate incomes - about six per cent of the City of Toronto's population.
Toronto Community Housing employs 1,400 staff in a broad range of jobs who deliver Toronto Community Housing's mandate to provide quality housing and build great neighbourhoods. Toronto Community Housing is one of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2010.
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Background: Toronto Community Housing responds to situation of Al Gosling
On October 10, 2009, Toronto Community Housing Acting CEO Keiko Nakamura issued the following statement to respond to earlier public concerns about the situation of tenant Al Gosling.
"On behalf of Toronto Community Housing, I want to express how deeply saddened we are to learn about Al Gosling's state of health and to share our hope for his full recovery. There is a home waiting for Mr. Gosling at Toronto Community Housing. We hope he is able to come home soon."
"Mr. Gosling's case has a great deal of history and is very complex. For three years, Mr. Gosling has not verified his income to confirm he is eligible for subsidized housing. This is a crucial tenant responsibility and the foundation of the integrity of social housing and ensuring people on wait lists for subsidized housing can access it as soon as possible. For three years, Mr. Gosling fell behind on his rent. For three years, his arrears grew. For three years, Toronto Community Housing, guided by an Eviction Prevention Policy that seeks to minimize arrears-based loss of housing, worked with Mr. Gosling to try and keep him housed. We sent him letters, talked to him on the phone, met him in person and tried to mediate our differences at the Landlord and Tenant Board, all to try and explain to him his responsibilities and keep him housed."
"In September, we were successful in reaching an agreement to rehouse Mr. Gosling. He agreed to verify his income, repay his arrears over time and secure the third-party assistance of his legal advocate to help him fulfill his responsibilities as a tenant. We regret that we were unable to resolve the situation much sooner. We are investigating the circumstances, to ensure staff complied with Toronto Community Housing practices and policies, including our Eviction Prevention Policy, and to ensure staff are aware of the options available when they feel an individual is in need of a third-party intervention to maintain their housing."
"Toronto Community Housing is an open, transparent organization. We welcome an open discussion about this situation.While our primary interest here is Mr. Gosling and his well-being, this situation is also part of a larger ethical and public policy debate. The citizens of Toronto and Ontario must ask themselves: Do you believe housing providers should have an obligation to house vulnerable tenants who don't follow the requirements for a housing subsidy?"
"If the answer is "Yes," Ontario's housing laws will need to change, because it's not the law now. And citizens will need to be prepared for the impact that decision may have on the perceptions of transparency, equity, and the economic and financial costs that would result."