A Tenant's Manifesto on the Final Report of the Mayor's Task Force on TCH(C) (Part Three)
The third item on the list for Transformative Change for TCHC was "[b]etter buildings and more of them".
If, by better buildings, the City of Toronto means the same thing as it does when it is referring to its own Better Buildings Partnership. " A City of Toronto initiative that works with building owners, managers and builders to ensure that buildings achieve high energy performance and low environmental impact. We provide knowledge, resources and financial assistance to maximize the outcomes of a wide range of energy efficiency projects." I'm all in!
On the one hand, there is only an honorable mention for decreasing Toronto Community Housing's ecological foot print. Yet, unbeknownst to outsiders there needs to be a back to basics approach to TCH(C)'s environmental impact. Superintendents have been threatened with fines if their buildings don't increase the recycled materials weight and decrease the trash weight that the recycling/garbage trucks pick up.
TCH(C) staff, tenant reps, and a large majority of residents simply can't be bothered to recycled. In some cases, it's a distance issue. The garbage room on each floor is closer than the recycling bin at the outside edge of the parking lot.. In others, it's an accessibility issue. They can't be expected to pitch their recycling into a dumpster that is six feet high from a wheel chair/scooter or as they are leaning on their walker.
As far as I'm concerned Toronto Community Housing should be leading the city in waste diversion.
On the other hand, the report is very detailed when they describe wanting the ability to put more sardines (intensification on some sites) into more cans (through rejuvenation projects) on the same size of platter (lot size). In addition, they want the ability to have preferential consideration when it comes to the sale of surplus public land. Sprinkle on some capital grants, low or zero interest loans, tax/fee waivers, and debt guarantees. For dessert, they even want to have final say (never mind the "review opportunities" phrasing) when it comes to which units are renovated, demolished, replaced, or sold.
If individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments are being asked to invest in the future of TCH(C) then there needs to be a broader focus. Not only should they work on constructing "better buildings" they should also work on "community development" (below) and make a sincere effort at "tenant engagement" (next section).
For now, it's still called Toronto “Community” Housing. The first step in developing a healthy community is getting rid of the riff raff. Nobody wants to live next door to a drug dealer.
Housing has been declared a human right. Subsidized housing should be considered a privilege. The City of Toronto has gone above and beyond by providing persons with a subsidized unit. If it is proven that they have abuse that privilege then they are entitled to seek a market rental unit somewhere outside of Toronto Community Housing. It's not TCH's, or the Mayor's, responsibility to make sure serial criminals have a roof over their heads. Here's your eviction notice. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. End of story.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. We'll discuss why in the next section.
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