This section is actually a continuation of the fourth item on the list for Transformative Change for TCHC . The first part (decentralizing operations) was dealt with in the last section. Part Five will deal with strengthening partnerships.
I'm going to start this section off on a very controversial note. There is one partnership that I think should be demolished. That is the tenant rep system. If the tenant representatives actually represented the tenants they should have banded together years ago to provide feedback on the Final Report of the Mayor's Task Force on TCH(C).
They could have divided the work up by section across the city. Or a few communities could have met once a month to discussed a section per month. Then compiled a Tenant Reps Perspective on the Final Report of the Mayors Task Force on TCH(C). There should have been no need to wait, for the city to come up with this Tenants First initiative (which really translates to Tenants Last), to hear from our reps
In addition, to abolishing the old tenant rep system there needs to be a system in place that supports and recognizes those of us with the T'N'T (Time eNergy & Tenacity) to blast our own trails. Being told "Don't get your hopes up" with a pat on the shoulder prior to presenting at a Participatory Budget meeting does NOT count as support. Neither does ignoring emails during the Partnership Opportunities Legacy Fund's grant application process. .
One of the partnerships that should already be strengthened is that between Toronto Police Services and Toronto Community Housing security. Once upon a time I used to work as a security guard. During that time if Toronto Police Services appeared on site it was standard procedure to document the time they arrived on scene, the nature of there visit, unit number they were visiting, and the time they left. If that wasn't completed I would have been fired.
So I was absolutely dumbfounded to find out that there is NO automatic handshake between Toronto Police Services and TCH security when they arrive on site. There is NOT even a mandatory reporting system in place to notify the area property management office of visits to Toronto Community Housing sites (Seriously, I double checked.) Those police reports would be crucial evidence when going forward with a case for eviction to the Ontario Housing Tribunal. Especially, for those involved in criminal behavior.
Given that many of the Toronto Community Housing units are located in "Priority Neighborhoods" requiring extra police officers is this not the type of cooperation that should already be in place? If TCH(C) security can not be trusted at least open up a dialogue between the TCH(C) management offices and Toronto Police.
Another area that can use some solid investment is partnering with the youth from the communities. Toronto Community Housing is clearly on side with this issue. They just remain unsure how to resolve it.
Well, how about, instead of just giving youth a token seat on this committee, or that one, why don't we look to partnerships within the community that give youth real job opportunities. How about revamping the approved vendors list to reflect contractors that give Toronto Community Housing youth an opportunity at an apprenticeship?
“Give them a future or they will give themselves a past”
Another area where strengthening partnerships may be effective is bringing in community based mental health services. Anyone spending a significant amount of time in a TCH(C) community can attest to the need for both anger management and addiction counselling. Parenting groups/classes would also be valuable to tenants. Placing a public health nurse in the Operating Unit management offices once a week would be another valuable resource. The biggest push should be made for TCH(C) to hire a team of life coaches. Whether they act as an assistant to defining a persons' goals, or their biggest cheerleader, life coach services would benefit both individuals and communities.
In addition, TCH(C) community service coordinators would be able to make referrals and receive periodic attendance updates. An individual tenants willingness to partake of such resources could be used as one more assessment/evaluative tool to take to the Ontario Housing Tribunal should the situation escalate beyond a certain stage that would require eviction. Especially, if an individuals behaviors are interfering with the rights of other tenants.
Providing these services in a more direct manner to Toronto Community Housing tenants would facilitate their ability to be non-destructive, if not productive members of their communities.