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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘tchc

[URBAN NOTE] “Community Housing Tenants Weigh in on Mayor’s TCHC Task Force”

Torontoist’s Catherine McIntyre reports on the latest movements regarding Toronto Community Housing.

Robert Frederickson is ready for change. Last Saturday, he, along with more than 100 other tenants, gathered at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, eager to have their thoughts heard about changes to Toronto Community Housing.

Over the last two weeks, Toronto City staff has been meeting with the public in different communities to gauge how they feel about the recommendations put forth by the Mayor’s task force on Toronto Community Housing in January. The last of the consultations took place Monday, and for most of the community, particularly TCH tenants, there’s no question that social housing is past due for an overhaul.

What that change should look like, however, is still a topic of debate. At the 519, some tenants were frustrated with what they saw in the report, while others were anxious about the unknown outcomes of the proposed changes. Perhaps Frederickson was the more optimistic of the bunch, relieved that any change was on the horizon.

“We’ve been trying to get real changes, and we’ve been promised stuff before but nothing happens,” said Frederickson, a Scarborough resident who’s lived in community housing since 1997. “This report is the first time I’ve really seen something that shows they’re serious about improving the system. I’m just waiting to see what the City comes up with.”

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

[URBAN NOTE] Two links on the need for change in the Toronto Community Housing Corporation

From Torontoist:

How do you fix North America’s second-largest social housing provider?

That’s the question the six-member TCHC task force appointed by John Tory tried to answer over the past year, and they presented their final report on the matter Tuesday morning. The 83-page report outlines 29 recommendations meant to address systemic problems that have long plagued TCHC, including the short supply of units, lack of funding, and poor living conditions for tenants.

Over the last few years, the city has tried fixing the myriad problems by instating new board members, new CEOs, and a TCHC working group to tackle the $2.6 billion repair backlog, but so far, progress has been slow and minute compared to what is left to do.

So how can TCHC retool—or reinvent itself—to meet the needs of some of the city’s most vulnerable residents?

“The model, as it stands, is not working, and it hasn’t been for some time. We have some deep-rooted historical problems that have a lot to do with structures and old habits,” the mayor said to the room full of media, council members and various stakeholders. “The issues faced by the TCHC are large, and they’re difficult, and they’ve been allowed to accumulate for a very long time.”

From the Toronto Star:

Joakina Fernandes remembers a time when ready help was nowhere near.

Surviving her fourth heart attack last year, the 69-year-old was deeply depressed and confined to the Toronto Community Housing highrise at the edge of Regent Park she calls home.

She credits a team of health and support workers — who have spent more than a year embedded in the building, trying to improve the quality of life there — with helping her recover.

“Since they’ve come here there’s a lot of improvement,” Fernandes said Tuesday. She’s beaming from her usual perch in the building’s community room during a now-weekly drop-in organized by the community agency, Cota. “I’m very good now. I don’t have so much problems.”

A report released Tuesday at city hall, suggesting reforms to how public housing is delivered, holds up Fernandes’ building, 220 Oak St., as a model for how to provide the direct help for vulnerable citizens that has been lacking for years. As the Star reported Tuesday, the sum of 29 recommendations contained the report, if implemented, would be the biggest change in governance since TCHC was formed in 2002.

More, obviously, at each link.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 1, 2016 at 1:33 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO looks at atypically-named TTC subway stations, the ones named not after streets.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the protoplanetary disk of AU Microscopii.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at China’s nuclear submarine issues.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog examines the intersections between game theory and water shortages.
  • Far Outliers notes the travails of Buddhism in Buryatia and the decline of Russia’s Old Believers.
  • Geocurrents looks at rural-urban–potentially ethnic–divides in Catalonia.
  • Savage Minds examines controversies over tantra in contemporary Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Torontoist notes that the TCHC is only now investing in energy-saving repairs.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests contemporary Syria could have been Ukraine had Yanukovich been stronger, notes Belarusian opposition to a Russian military base, and notes discontent among Russia’s largely Sunni Muslims with the alliance with Iran and Syria.

[URBAN NOTE] “Report Exposes Climate of Fear at TCHC”

Torontoist’s David Hains was one of many, many people to report on today’s report on alleged misconduct at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, charged with overseeing the city’s public housing. Its head, Gene Jones, comes under particular fire.

Is anyone surprised that Mayor Rob Ford is Jones’ most prominent backer in the face of damning criticism?

Today, the ombudsman released a damning report about human resources practices at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC)—one that could lead to the dismissal of CEO Gene Jones at an emergency board meeting being held this afternoon. In the report, ombudsman Fiona Crean suggests the work culture at TCHC is governed by a “climate of fear” and finds that repeated HR violations committed by Jones and a handful of other senior executives have created a “destabilizing effect” on the organization.

[. . .]

Crean characterizes her findings as “a shocking story about the abject failure of leadership from the top.”

The report contains a number of recommendations: the organization, for example, should comply with its own policies and procedures, and train members of the board of directors and those with hiring power about those policies.

Such suggestions might seem to reflect only basic common sense, but at least one high-level TCHC executive expressed doubts about the utility of the organization’s guidelines. Anand Maharaj, vice-president of human resources, told the ombudsman’s office the HR policy framework was “outdated” and suggested HR hiring policies were something of a hindrance[.]

[. . .]

Gene Jones himself apparently doesn’t feel it’s important for a CEO to familiarize himself with an organization’s policies. The ombudsman’s report notes that “the CEO believed that his actions were his prerogative and that he had no responsibility for knowing the rules because it was the responsibility of his VP of HR to ensure that they were followed.”

The relevant rules were not followed, the report indicates, when Jones hired the former executive assistant of a councillor without posting or holding a competition for the position. Lisa-Joan Overholt, former EA to Vincent Crisanti (Ward 1, Etobicoke North) and a volunteer for Rob Ford’s mayoral 2010 campaign, was taken on as a manager—six months later, Overholt was promoted to a senior director position and given a $30,000 raise. When the ombudsman asked Overholt and Jones to provide a job description of her role, they could not do so. Another employee, Graham Leah, was appointed to be TCHC’s interim vice-president of asset management, a position for which he had not even applied.

And the HR irregularities also extend to firings: the ombudsman found that between June 2012 and October 2013, there’d been 41 terminations without cause, including 15 at the director level and 14 involving people with more than 10 years’ experience. “Terminations often seemed poorly planned, even impulsive,” Crean observes, “and conducted without regard for the knowledge gaps they created.” Since Jones joined the TCHC, there have been at least four COOs; three have been fired.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 24, 2014 at 1:59 am