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Nine ideas for Mayor Tory’s housing agenda

November 6, 2014

Mayor-elect John Tory campaigned on a united Toronto and a united City Council. So no wonder he named housing as one of his top priorities. Good housing policy benefits us all. It is also one of those “nuts and bolts” issues where good ideas can come from any point on the political spectrum.

I don’t know what Tory’s housing plans might be. But I were crafting a housing agenda for Council’s next term, here are nine “neither left- nor right-wing” ideas that would be on the list. Read more…

The case against change

May 22, 2014

Hmmm.

When I wrote what I thought was a provocative call to de-amalgamate TCHC last week, I expected a deluge of counter-arguments (at least in my email box) from my housing colleagues.

But except for Gordon Mack Scott, whom I have enjoyed meeting via the comments section of my blog, the counter-case didn’t materialize.

It looks like I’ll just have to write it myself. Here are the difficulties I see in de-amalgamating TCHC. Read more…

Is it time to de-amalgamate TCHC?

May 15, 2014

If there is one lesson we can learn from former Toronto Community Housing CEO Gene Jones – and from Rob Ford for that matter – it is that TCHC tenants crave personal contact. They don’t want to navigate the departmental maze. They don’t want to get on the bus to visit the nearest TCHC office. They want someone to fix their taps, answer their questions, listen to their recommendations, help them fill out their forms, and keep troublemakers out of the stairwells.

So let’s give it to them. It’s what other other non-profit and co-op housing providers do.  Read more…

The politicization of TCHC

April 30, 2014

In 2011 Mayor Rob Ford swept into office, swept out Toronto Community Housing’s CEO Keiko Nakamura, and appointed a Board of Directors to “clean house” at TCHC.

In 2014, Rob Ford’s reputation is in tatters, and CEO Gene Jones – a man after the mayor’s own heart – is gone.

Ford has promised to reinstate Jones upon re-election. Others are speculating a new mayor would again “clean house” after October, appointing a new Board, and in turn a new CEO, in his or her own image.

Is this any way to run a housing company?

Read more…

No villains here!

January 8, 2014

Is Toronto Community Housing CEO Gene Jones a villain?

That is the contention of Torontoist contributor Desmond Cole. According to Cole, Jones is on a “blame crusade” to shift responsibility for TCHC’s neglected buildings onto tenants.  He notes that Jones rewarded Swansea Mews with a $150,000 maintenance grant when tenants reported criminal activity leading to charges against three men.  In the following week, Jones “called for a ‘partnership’ between his staff and residents to fix long-neglected properties.”

Cole is absolutely correct in saying tenants are not to blame for TCHC’s poor state of repair. Chronic underfunding for capital repairs, extending back to the days when the Ontario Housing Corporation funded TCHC’s oldest buildings, is the real villain here.

But I also believe TCHC has no hope of repairing its buildings without tenants’ help. Why? Read more…

Getting to “us”

December 18, 2013

I write about housing because it is what I know, and where I think I may have something to contribute.

But for me, good housing policy is only a means to an inclusive and joyful society — a way to break down the barriers between “us” and “them.”  Read more…

A budget running on empty

December 10, 2013

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it’s a mistake to patch an operating budget with one-time money.

Toronto’s Executive Committee, backed by Toronto’s City Manager Joe Pennachetti, has made this principle a point of pride. Mayor Ford has gone on record saying, “Before I took office, any annual surplus was used to fill holes in bloated operating budgets. . . . We have put an end to the unsustainable budget practices of the last administration. It is over.”

So why is the City of Toronto now proposing to balance its 2014 operating budget with $28 Million in housing reserves? Read more…

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