Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) has marked a milestone in the Tenant Engagement System Refresh as tenants in phase one communities have completed their tenant leadership selection.
Our teams of tenants and staff have been working tirelessly over the past year as we moved from the local model selection phase to the representative elections. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic challenged how the elections process would be held, tenants and staff continued to show their commitment and passion to the engagement system.
"Despite the impacts of the pandemic, it is remarkable what we were able to achieve," said Julio Rigores, Manager, Tenant Engagement System. "The success of the tenant elections for phase one communities demonstrates how tenant engagement is a priority for both our tenants and our staff."
Taking part in elections during a pandemic is not easy, and despite the majority of engagement activities being held online or on the phone, more than 400 tenants participated from phase one communities. This is an increase of 81 per cent in tenant participation in these communities when compared with the 2015 Tenant Representative election.
How we got here
In response to recommendations set out by the Mayor's Task Force and Tenants First reports, one of the main goals of the refreshed Tenant Engagement System is to encourage and empower more tenants to get involved in local decision-making in their community. This type of participation is one of the best ways tenants can have their voice heard in determining what and how services are delivered to their communities.
This refreshed process has created more leadership positions at the local level because different local engagement options provide more opportunities for involvement. For example, in the phase one communities that selected a building/townhouse committee, more than 380 tenants have joined their committees. As well, a total of 120 Community Representative positions were created. This is an increase of 25 per cent over the 90 positions available in 2015. This means that more tenants than ever before will be involved in promoting community priorities and action plans as well as officially evaluating the services provided at their buildings and more.
Available accommodations and COVID-19 safety
Tenant safety, comfort and access are essential to a successful elections process: empowered tenants create a system that reflects the priorities and views of as many people as possible. TCHC is committed to making sure all tenants have equitable access to the Tenant Elections process, and we understand that some accommodations may be needed for tenants to participate fully. Available accommodations include large-print ballots, physically-accessible venues for any in-person activities, translation and interpretation support and more.
TCHC has worked closely with Toronto Public Health to create additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect any tenants who wished to participate in election activities. This includes the recommendation that tenant elections are held in three phases. This means that buildings would move through the tenant leadership selection process at different times, allowing for tenants and staff to engage each other safely.
Until public health advice allows, TCHC will be hosting elections and elections-related engagement activities virtually wherever possible.
Phase one communities by the numbers:
- 57 communities in total
- 15 of 57 communities chose the Community Representative model
- 42 of 57 communities chose the Building/Townhouse Committee model
- 87 Community Representative positions were filled*
*Both local models select Community Representatives to represent them at the next level
Community Representatives from phase one communities will soon start meeting at their Regional Community Action Table where duties will include identifying solutions and strategies that address tenant priorities.
TCHC will begin outreach and communication with tenants in phase two communities in mid-January and in phase three communities in February. Tenant leadership is expected to be established (Tenant Elections completed) by the end of June 2021.
All interested tenants are encouraged to attend an information session to learn more about the refreshed system and the role that tenant leaders will play in assessing the quality of services provided to tenants in the areas of cleaning, maintenance, tenancy management, and community safety and supports.
"This added level of tenant involvement is one of the most important parts of the refreshed system," Julio said. "You asked and we are listening. Tenant input is now a part of the official evaluation and management process for the quality of services that TCHC provides."
You can learn more about the Tenant Engagement System Refresh, including next steps and full safety precautions and available accommodations, through the following channels: