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TCHC: Some ideas just won’t work

October 15, 2015

I’m not the only amateur pundit concocting “big and bold” ideas for TCHC’s future. As I scan the comments sections of the Toronto media, or simply talk to friends, I hear all sorts of ideas for reforming TCHC.

However, some of these ideas remind me of an old cartoon. The consultant is standing beside a graph chart in a corporate boardroom saying, “When I say reform, I don’t necessarily mean better.” Here are four widely circulating reform ideas that I think would do more harm than good. Read more…

TCHC: Big, bold . . . and BETTER

September 29, 2015

The Mayor’s Task Force on TCHC has been mandated to consider “big and bold” ideas for TCHC’s future.

They are needed. Getting it Done, TCHC’s response to the recommendations in the Mayor’s Task Force’s Interim Report, points the way with great ideas — 60 new cleaners, community safety officers assigned to regular beats, the possibility of live-in supers, and the inspiring Re-Set initiative. But I confess that I, backed by decades of experience, lack confidence that TCHC will be able to execute these great ideas without structural change. Read more…

Rooming houses for a more affordable Toronto

September 17, 2015

Many years ago flames flared out of our family’s fireplace. In the two minutes it took to scoot my young children out the door and bring the fire under control, the smoke had spread throughout the house and filled my third-floor bedroom with ash.

The fire taught me that my home’s staircase functions as a chimney that can instantly spread danger to every part of the house.

What did I do about it? Nothing.

Read more…

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…