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Turning around George: A success worth repeating

August 25, 2015

I hope all of you saw Ben Spurr’s excellent article in the August 11th Star, “Making social housing work: a TCHC success story.” The article describes the turnaround of 291 George Street — a 132-unit building that even street-hardened men were too scared to live in — into a clean and decent home.

If anything, the article downplays the building’s success. In just one year after the “turnaround pilot” was introduced: Read more…

Rooming houses made respectable

April 28, 2015

How do you help newcomers afford their first mortgage, seniors stay in their homes longer, or students find a home close to campus? You rent out rooms. Read more…

Five ideas for the TCHC Task Force

January 16, 2015

How exciting to see Mayor Tory make good on his election promise to form a Task Force to improve Toronto Community Housing – and how good to see Senator Art Eggleton and five other thoughtful leaders ready to commit themselves to the task.

Until this moment, most public attention has been focused on TCHC’s massive repair backlog, and that surely is a topic the Task Force must consider. But it shouldn’t be the only one. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to truly improve the lives of the 160,000+ people who live in TCHC now, and prepare TCHC to meet the needs of generations to come.

Here are five outcomes I’d love to see on the Task Force’s agenda. Read more…

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 if 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


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…


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