At last, a success story at Toronto Community Housing

Posted on August 16, 2015 in Inclusion Delivery System – Opinion/Editorials – The Toronto Community Housing Corp. turned a derelict, crime-ridden building into a healthy community for its residents. Bravo.
Aug 16 2015.   Editorial

The country’s largest landlord, with 110,000 tenants in 2,200 buildings, regularly makes the news for the condition of many of its properties: units too often plagued by bedbugs and cockroaches, falling brick walls, corroded pipes and rusting balconies. And it’s not like there’s been much to crow about in its leadership: the last two CEOs left amid controversy.

That’s why one of the first things Mayor John Tory (open John Tory’s policard) did after winning last year’s election was to name a task force to find solutions to the many problems the housing corporation faces. Its report is due in December.

But even before it makes its recommendations, there’s something to crow about.

As reporter Ben Spurr reported this week, the building at 291 George St. is an unlikely place for a success story. The area to the east of downtown is better known for a thriving drug trade, derelict properties and crowds of homeless men congregating outside the Seaton House shelter.

But the building, with 132 bachelor apartments housing almost exclusively single men, many of whom struggle with addictions and mental health problems, is now a bright example of turnaround tactics.

The reversal of fortune was fueled in part by the agency spending $719,000 on repairs and maintenance and hiring a security guard and cleaner.

But what really changed things for the better was having two social service agencies set up in the lobby to assist tenants with legal problems or refer them to medical addiction and mental health services.

The result: where once needles and condoms littered the halls, while vagrants slept in stairwells and drug dealers plied their trade, there is now is a gleaming building with an active tenant committee whose members have planted gardens.

With the right social supports, security and repairs, the building is an example of what more of the agency’s properties could be: healthy, thriving communities.  Hats off to TCHC staff and residents.

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