It has members and a mandate, and now the new Special Working Group on the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), chaired by Councillor Ana Bailão, has about six months to chart a financially sustainable future for the city’s biggest landlord. The Special Working Group was created after Toronto City Council voted to reject a scheme proposed by the TCHC Board for a massive sell-off of affordable homes to finance a growing capital repair bill.
In this backgrounder I expand on the following seven key priorities now facing the Special Working Group:
1. Protecting and preserving the existing TCHC housing portfolio.
- Recognize the critical importance that TCHC’s housing stock plays in meeting the affordable housing needs of low and moderate-income Torontonians, and reject the downward spiral of housing sell-offs to finance ongoing repair needs.
2. Engaging TCHC tenants in creating a sustainable future.
- Ensure TCHC tenants are meaningfully and fully engaged in multiple ways throughout its six-month tenure.
3 & 4. Re-engaging the federal and provincial governments.
- Take up the Drummond Commission’s affordable housing recommendations, and start negotiations with federal and provincial governments on adequate and appropriate long-term funding to repair existing substandard housing and to build much-needed new affordable homes.
- Negotiate a fairer rent subsidy formula with the provincial government that plugs the annual shortfall that amounts to tens of millions of dollars.
5. Reaping additional savings through energy and other building upgrades.
- Identify and implement a portfolio-wide program of energy and other building upgrades to realize substantial future savings in building operations.
6. Implementing innovative social financing options.
- Engage social finance experts to identify pragmatic financing options that will build a sustainable financial base for TCHC.
7. Identify applicable good practices in other jurisdictions and engage leading housing experts in providing pragmatic research and policy advice.
- Engage and support an advisory group of leading housing experts to provide pragmatic research and policy advice.