Council approves ‘tenants first’ plan, set to reshape community housing

Toronto City Council approved its “tenants first implementation plan” on Tuesday, which the city says will improve living conditions for people in community housing.

Mayor John Tory called the plan a “rethink” of the city’s housing network, and something that would be a benefit to everyone who lives there.

“The tenant’s first implementation plan will create better living conditions and experiences for tenants of Toronto Community Housing Corporation while ensuring that their homes are safe and well maintained,” Tory told reporters at city hall.

A key part of the plan, Tory said, is the creation of a new seniors housing corporation to manage and operate 83 seniors’ buildings in the city.

“Seniors in Toronto deserve housing that is both up to an appropriate standard and suitable for seniors themselves,” Tory said.

“This will be an organization with a laser-like focus on caring for the 27,000 seniors who live in Toronto Community Housing right now.”

The plan will also include “phased implementation” of an integrated service model for seniors housing, starting with 10 sites in 2020. That will include a partnership with the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, the city says.

The plan also outlines the transfer of Toronto Community Housing’s real estate development functions to CreateTO, which is the city’s real estate agency.

“This is a dramatic change for Toronto Community Housing, but I think it is one that will allow the organization to better focus on the needs of its tenants,” Tory said.

The report also outlines changes to governance of the business side of Toronto Community Housing, and increases the city’s oversight of its activities.

These changes will “increase collaboration” between the city and the housing agency, the city said in a news release, while also mitigating legal and financial risk, containing operating costs and minimizing disruption to tenants.

The city says Toronto Community Housing Corporation will still remain a municipal corporation, with a mandate to operate the 43,000 units in mixed and family buildings across the city.

“The Tenants First project is working to transform [Toronto Community Housing Corporation] into a social housing landlord whose buildings are in a good state of repair, and that connects tenants to appropriate services so they can participate actively in their communities,” the city said in a news release.

That work will continue for “the next several years,” the city says.

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