The Tenant Engagement System Refresh Process

The Tenant Engagement System Refresh Process

In response to the recommendations made by the Mayor's Task Force and Tenant's First reports, Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) worked on refreshing its Tenant Engagement System, which was initially established in 2003.

In May 2016, a group of tenants and staff came together to form the City-Wide Tenant-Staff Engagement Advisory Committee (CWTSEAC). This committee met regularly to review, discuss and provide input on how TCHC could refresh its Tenant Engagement System and maximize tenant engagement opportunities across TCHC communities.

In July 2017, the CWTSEAC presented 52 recommendations under six key objectives to the Tenant Services Committee:

  1. Establish a Governance System
  2. Create an Accountability Framework
  3. Knowledge and Information – Building Profile
  4. Communications
  5. Increase Tenant Participation
  6. Capacity Building for Tenants and Staff

Throughout 2018, TCHC consulted with tenants to implement the 52 CWTSEAC recommendations. The goal of the consultation was to engage as many tenants as possible and get their input on how the proposed system could be representative of and meet the diverse needs of TCHC's tenants. The result of the consultations is the Tenant Engagement System structure that has been approved by the Board of Directors in July 2019.

During tenant consultations, TCHC engaged with more than 16,000 tenants on the proposed changes to refresh the engagement system. It undertook a large consultation process to make sure that as many tenants had opportunities to shape the proposed new model as possible.

With this process:

  • 3,326 tenants participated in community meetings to brainstorm local priorities
  • 10,205 tenants participated in activities to establish community priorities
  • 303 tenants participated in the consultation forums
  • 292 tenants participated in the community feedback forums
  • 125 tenants participated in the Tenant Volunteer Policy consultations
  • 2,380 tenants completed the section of the 2018 Tenant Experience Survey that addressed the tenant engagement system

Timeline 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.