Tenant Engagement System Frequently Asked Questions

Tenant Engagement System Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Tenant Engagement System Refresh?

The Tenant Engagement System Refresh is an update to the Tenant Participation System. This update will help meet the needs of our tenants while increasing and shaping tenant participation. The Tenant Engagement System Refresh will allow tenants to address local priorities, be represented, have their voices heard, and get involved in local decision-making in their community.

What are the key objectives of the Tenant Engagement System?

The City-Wide Tenant-Staff Engagement Advisory Committee developed a shared vision, core values and principles, and key objectives to guide any changes to the current Tenant Engagement System. They are as follows:

Key objectives

Definition

Establish a Governance System

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TCHC collaborate with tenants to build a democratic system that will "provide for tenant input for decisions at the corporate and local levels."  
Create an accountability framework
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The refreshed Tenant Engagement System must be accountable to the needs of communities, tenants and TCHC's Shareholder Direction.

Knowledge and information: building profile

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Communities and tenant leadership can be strengthened through a systemic examination of tenant demographics and community needs and assets.

Communications

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Building a successful communications strategy that emphasizes the importance of clear, concise and timely communication.

Increase tenant participation

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Support and provide resources where tenants are engaged, and have opportunities to thrive and play leadership roles to build their communities.

Capacity building for tenants and staff

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Providing TCHC team members with the right tools to do their work and build their skills and develop tenant capacity to increase participation.

What does this new system entail?

The refreshed Tenant Engagement System requires tenants to vote on an engagement option at the Building/Townhouse level that best fits the needs of their community.

If tenants want to be represented at the building/townhouse level and participate in the Tenant Engagement System, there are two options for them to choose from – Community Representatives or Building/townhouse Committee.

  • Community Representatives – tenants elect two representatives for every 250 households. The elected members work with Toronto Community Housing and partners to address community priorities, implement and monitor the Community's Action Plan, and represent their community at the Tenant Community Action Table
  • Building/Townhouse Committee – open to all tenants. Each committee works with Toronto Community Housing and partners to address community priorities, implement and monitor the Community's Action Plan, and selects two members to represent their community at the Tenant Community Action Table.

If tenants choose to be independent of the Tenant Engagement System, they can choose to have a Tenant Association or No Representation in local decision-making.

  • Tenant Association – independent from Toronto Community Housing. Each association is an independent membership group, has no community representation at the Tenant Community Action Table, and can choose to form a tenant association in addition to being engaged in the Tenant Engagement System Refresh.
  • No Representation – tenants will have no community representation in the refreshed Tenant Engagement System. This means that there is no representation in local decision-making, a community is unable to implement and monitor their action plan, and there is no community representation at the Tenant Community Action Table.

Depending on the option tenants select for their building, this will determine who will sit at the Tenant Community Action Table at the Community Level.

Voting will take place at each building during dates and times that have yet to be determined. Look out for posters and outreach from local engagement staff. 

Where is the Tenant Engagement System Refresh being implemented?

The Tenant Engagement System Refresh is being implemented in all Toronto Community Housing communities. 

Who does the refreshed Tenant Engagement System apply to?

The Tenant Engagement System Refresh applies to all Toronto Community Housing tenants living in a building or community owned and operated by Toronto Community Housing.

When will the Tenant Engagement System Refresh come into effect?

The Tenant Engagement System Refresh will be completely implemented once all buildings or townhouse communities have voted on an option at the Building/Townhouse level, once tenants select who will sit at the Tenant Community Action Table at the Community Level, and once tenants and staff are selected to be on the City-Wide Tenant-Staff Governance Oversight Committee at the City Level.

Why did Toronto Community Housing refresh the Tenant Engagement System from the Tenant Participation System?

Toronto Community Housing designed a new Tenant Participation System to reflect the needs of our tenants. In early 2015, we held meetings in communities across the city. At these meetings, ideas and priorities were discussed that helped shape tenant participation. The refreshed Tenant Engagement System was approved by the Board of Directors in July 2019. Visit the Tenant Participation System webpage for more information on the switch.

How will the refreshed Tenant Engagement System affect me?

The refreshed Tenant Engagement System will affect all Toronto Community Housing tenants, depending on the option they select at the Building/Townhouse level.

If tenants want to be represented at the building/townhouse level and participate in the Tenant Engagement System, there are two options for them to choose from – Community representatives or Building/townhouse committee.

If tenants choose to be independent of the Tenant Engagement System, they can choose to have a Tenant association or No representation in local decision-making.

Depending on the option that receives the most votes at the Building/Townhouse level, as selected by tenants, this will be the option that will be implemented for that community.

How can I participate in implementing the Tenant Engagement System?

As a tenant of Toronto Community Housing, you can vote for the local engagement option at the building/townhouse level of your choice.

You can choose to have your community be represented and participate in the Tenant Engagement System. Participating in the Tenant Engagement System will allow your community to get involved in local decision-making. Tenants will be able to address local priorities, be represented, and have their voice heard in the community.

If you choose for you community to be independent of the Tenant Engagement System, tenants will have no community representation at the Tenant Community Action Table (formerly known as Tenant Councils) and no representation in local decision-making. As a result, the community will not have a formal group of tenants to monitor their local Community Action Plan

What has happened with the refreshed Tenant Engagement System to date?

2003: The City of Toronto, in its capacity as Shareholder, mandated TCHC to create a Tenant Engagement System.

2008: TCHC implemented the previous Tenant Engagement System, which consisted of elected tenant representatives who advocated for the needs of their communities and participated in decision-making.

2015: Tenant Representative Elections took place across the city. Over 300 tenant representatives were elected or appointed by members of their community.

2015: Based on the Mayor's Task Force recommendations, TCHC committed to refresh the Tenant Engagement System as mentioned in the 2015 Getting it Done report (PDF).

2015: At an Open Space Forum, tenants identified common issues with the current engagement model and developed a plan for moving forward. A group of tenants and TCHC team members worked together to develop, implement and analyze the results from the "Take 5 survey.", which directly informed a set of recommendations around changes to the Tenant Engagement System

2016: These recommendations were presented at nine town hall meetings held across the city. At each town hall meeting, tenants were nominated and elected to form the City-Wide Tenant Staff Engagement Advisory Committee (CWTSEAC).

2016: The Mayor's Task Force on Toronto Community Housing Corporation Final Report, "Transformative Change for Toronto Community Housing Corporation" suggested that the tenant engagement system "does not facilitate tenant input on the local issues that affect those most and limits tenant participating to only those tenants elected in each building and community and the Board Members". According to the report, the current system "has not allowed TCHC to benefit from the many tenants who have not been elected, but have good ideas for their community"

2016: Tenants First: A Way Forward for Toronto Community Housing and Social Housing in Toronto 2016 report suggest that "increasing tenant involvement in decision making will support the decentralization of operations and strengthen partnerships to ensure quality services for tenants."

2017: Tenants First Phase 1 Implementation Plan recommended the development of a pilot project to improve the alignment of Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) and City services to focus on innovative approaches to community development. TCHC and the City will jointly undertake this pilot to:

  • engage tenants in community visioning, planning and decision-making;
  • identify community priorities in consultation with tenants;
  • identify service gaps and community partners; and
  • co-develop and implement local action plans with tenants that address local issues.

2017: CWTSEAC created a shared vision and operating principles to guide any changes to the Tenant Engagement System. The committee presented 52 recommendations based on analysis of the "Take 5 survey" in the Tenant Engagement System Refresh Proposal Report (PDF) at the Tenant Services Committee meeting in July 2017. The committee adopted the principles of these recommendations. 

2018: TCHC started a broad consultation process to develop a refreshed Tenant Engagement System. This goal was to develop the refreshed system, shaped by as many tenants as possible, and that it represented the diverse views and needs of TCHC's tenant population. The priorities identified by tenants through the community priority-setting process laid the foundation of the new Tenant Engagement System. The refreshed Tenant Engagement System was presented to tenants at six community feedback forums in late November/early December. 

2019: The Tenant Engagement System and implementation plan were approved by the Board of Directors in July 2019. The Tenant Engagement System includes a new three-level structure for the local, community and city level and options for tenants to select the local engagement option that best fits their community. Check out the news release  to learn about the refreshed Tenant Engagement System. 

How will TCHC continue to engage with tenants while implementing changes to the refreshed Tenant Engagement System?

TCHC will continue to interact with tenants to create awareness about the refreshed Tenant Engagement System and how it will affect them. TCHC is committed to making sure that engagement continues while we implement the refreshed Tenant Engagement System.

Throughout 2019, our engagement teams were active in communities, working with tenants to identify solutions to tenant-identified priorities and develop local Community Action Plans. Some of our successes for 2019 include:

  • 3,128 tenants who participated in the first Community Action Plan meeting, where the plan was drafted
  • 2,704 tenants participated in the second Community Action Plan meeting, where the draft plan was presented and finalized
  • 261 communities (developments) finalized/approved their Community Action Plans
  • The establishment of the Tenant-Staff Election Working Group (TSEWG), consisting of 15 tenants, to develop a terms of reference for the engagement structure at the building/townhouse level, community level and city level, along with the Tenant Election process and evaluation plan.
  • The establishment of four Interim Funding Tables (one in each region and one for the seniors portfolio), made up of 18 tenants, to review and approve tenant funding requests for projects and initiatives to address community priorities

As we move forward, there are a number of other opportunities for tenants to get involved. Here's how:

  • Help your community continue to finalize their Community Action Plan.
  • Identify the non-capital items that will help improve your community through the Participatory Budgeting program.
  • Apply for the Tenant Action Funds (previously known as Tenant Council Funds) to get funding for a project or initiative that will address your community priorities.
  • Participate in local events, initiatives and programs.

To find out more, you can connect with your engagement Community Services Coordinator (CSC). If you are not sure who your CSC is, you can call our Client Care Centre at 416-981-5500 and an agent will connect you to the right person.

What are the next steps when it comes to the refreshed Tenant Engagement System?

Next steps in implementing the refreshed Tenant Engagement System are:

  • Have communities vote on their local engagement option
  • Hold tenant elections for communities that voted for the Community Representative option
  • Establish committees for communities that have voted for the building or townhouse committee option
  • Establish Tenant Community Action Tables
  • Establish City-Wide Tenant-Staff Governance Oversight Committee through an application process
  • Provide training and opportunities for tenants participating in the Tenant Engagement System