A Tenant's Manifesto on the Final Report of the Mayor's Task Force on TCH(C) (Part Six)
This sections details how to go about accomplishing the fifth and final item on the list for Transformative Change for TCHC report. That idea was to "[r]eform the rent geared to income (RGI) System".
Reforming the Rent Geared to Income system is an idea I have been promoting everywhere possible. This would required the Ontario Housing Tribunal lift the cap (one time) on rent increases for those in subsidized units across the province from a percentage (I believe it will be 1.5% for 2017) to the maximum shelter allowance of their social assistance benefits.
For Toronto Community Housing this would allow for an influx of cash from a tenant base that is approximately 75% social assistance recipients. Personally, my rent is $139 a month with no explanation as to how the calculation is made. If we were to go to a system that implements a maximum shelter allowance requirement then I would be paying $479 per month and the calculation is self explanatory.
That's a significant increase across the board for TCH(C) revenues. In addition, Toronto Community Housing could also demand those amounts be paid direct. That way, the money is technically coming directly from the Ontario government coffers. (An added bonus is that we never again have to worry about a tenant getting behind in their rent.)
Unfortunately, I do not think Art Eggleton (as an accountant) went far enough in his report. I believe he should have done an extensive evaluation of the income and expenses at Toronto Community Housing to determine a more complete analysis of the opportunities for increasing revenues and decreasing losses.
Another revenue generating option includes putting a premium on real estate sales in Toronto. Similar to fees for international students availing themselves of our world class education system. According to the University of Toronto's website a domestic first year student for the 2016- 2017 semester pays $6,400 tuition. While an international first year student pays $41,920. We need to quit undervaluing our own real estate by collecting additional moneys from international buyers. Then we can ear mark those funds specifically for our social housing initiatives including Toronto Community Housing.
As far as decreasing losses the top two that should jump to the front of everyone's mind would be eliminating the need for fines for fire code violations and eliminating construction cost overruns. Both of these items have been broadcast throughout mainstream media.
Toronto Community Housing can not afford to be paying $100,000 in fines for fire code violations. Nor can it afford the additional legal fees to fight it. I'm sure tax payers could find another way to burn through that money.
As for the construction cost overruns may I suggest a financial incentive for early or on time completion while meeting or exceeding industry standards. Then, of course, I am equally on board with financial penalties or revocation of contract for late completion. The prime example being the Regent Park rejuvenation project.
Make no mistake about it. The contractors building these sites are not in it for the "social housing" aspect. They want to make their money first. They couldn't sell off the market rate units in time to cover the costs of building the social housing component of refurbishing Regent Park. So they siphoned another $108 million from the city coffers. (That money is earmarked to complete Phase Two of the FIVE phase project. They haven't even reached the halfway mark!) I don't recall hearing anything about partial or total repayment of those funds once the remaining market rate units are sold. Have you?
It doesn't take a certified accountant to understand, that until such a time as financial responsibility is built into the system, no matter how many new dollars can be funneled into Toronto Community Housing, they will always find a way to hemorrhage more.
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