Two Scandals

It gets worse and worse for Toronto Community Housing Corporation.  Just one week after the city auditor revealed inappropriate expenses and egregious lapses in procurement practices, the TCHC executive is a shambles: the civilian board resigned, tenant reps were ousted and CEO Keiko Nakamura, who so far refused to quit, will surely be given the boot by city councilors.

Now, amidst rumours that Mayor Rob Ford has ordered an appraisal of all city housing stock, comes news that Case Ootes will take over as interim managing director.  Ootes, a veteran councilor who retired prior to last fall’s election, is a both long-time Ford ally and critic of social housing in the city.

It’s a poorly-kept secret that Mayor Ford wants to privatize TCHC.

The reasons are obvious.  The city faces a $744 million deficit next year.  TCHC has a $6 billion portfolio.  Selling off even portion of the housing stock will go a long way towards balancing a budget.  Granted, some of the savings would go to rent supplements for low-income households, but those supplements rely on vacancies and, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp, Toronto vacancies are in a decade-long drop.  In fact, University of Toronto professor (and CERA supporter) David Hulchanski says Europe, United States and New Zealand all rely on a mix of public housing and rent supplements.  Toronto itself has 58,700 affordable units and 4,693 supplemented households.

Ford’s mantra of privatization is based on blind ideology, not thoughtful study.  Privatization is deemed less costly for taxpayers and therefore more efficient.  But there is more than one way to gauge efficiency.  TCHC, warts and all, houses some of our most vulnerable citizens –the mentally ill, the working poor, the aged and infirm – and these people are far less likely to be protected in a purely private market, rent supplement or no.

Mayor Ford is blatantly using the TCHC scandal to push forward his simple solutions.  He might eliminate the financial costs but ignore the human cost.  And that will be the real scandal.

  • I am a single wkniorg mother of 3 young children. I have always been employed and been fortunate enough to not ever have to go on welfare. I have never received a dime of child support -even though my children’s father has been court ordered to pay. He manages to evade the system by either going on Welfare or wkniorg under the table. I have always felt very fortunate to be renting this home off the City at a rate geared to my income-we would’ve have been homeless more than a few times had we not been given this opportunity. This is the only home my children know. Their school, sports teams, friends, granmother and uncles all live within a short walking distance. They would be devastated if they were forced to vacate and move to an unknown and most likely high crime city owned apartment . Why doesnt the government go after the deadbeat father instead of attacking the most vulnerable our seniors, people with disabilities and our children. I do most the repairs myself as I do not want to be a drain on the system. Also, if the City of Toronto does vote to sell all 900 units than the least they could do is offer the employed tenants first right of refusal to purchase. Perhaps they can work with Mortgage companies or Organizations such as Habitat for Humanities to accept smaller down payments for mortgage approvals. I am terrified for my family’s future. We love our community and work very hard to be upstanding members of society.