The other day I was supposed to go to my advocacy mentors retirement party that started at five. Shortly after three o'clock I received a twitter message from someone at CBC News requesting a meet up in the next hour to discuss Toronto Community Housing's interim CEO Greg Spearn stepping down.
That led to an immediate change in plans. I contacted the peeps organizing the retirement party, sent my regrets, and a GIANT thank you to my mentor, I know that without her support in the past I never would have felt safe enough to voice my opinion about anything. Never mind taking the opportunity to be the lead story on CBC News at six o'clock.
In those few hours I went through many different scenarios in my head as to how they wanted me to answer some key questions. Once the camera crew arrived I ran through a few more scenarios. Then once the live segment started I realized I could zoom right in on one of my key Manifesto points. The interview began focusing on the reporter listing the defaults of several of the previous CEO's at TCH. That many people being disgraced in the same position speaks to the inadequacy of the position not the individual people.
So I led the CBC News at six o'clock Tuesday evening with the following quote""Maybe it shouldn't be just one person at the top handling the whole portfolio ,.. Maybe they should be dividing it up and making it more manageable, because I think (that), would hopefully, prevent some of the catastrophes that have been happening financially."
What did I mean by that?
Well, Toronto Community Housing is the largest social housing provider in Canada and second largest in North America. To put the management responsibility of such a huge diverse portfolio on any one individual is cruel. It's setting them up for failure.
So how about creating a team. Admittedly, the details of my following suggestion are going to sound far fetched at first. But. why not bring in tenants as co-board members. Give the tenants equal representation at the Board of Directors level. There is a built in suspicion between Toronto Community Housing tenants and board members. That would act as an automatic deterrent to allowing the other side to squander money. With equal representation of tenants versus outside interests at the board of directors level there is less likelihood of misspent funds. We certainly couldn't do any worse than what has happened in the past, still happens today and will continue to happen, if appropriate balancing mechanisms are not put in place.
In addition, I do still believe in abolishing the current tenant rep system. I believe we should have some type of tenant system that reports to the board on a quarterly basis from each sector of the city providing basic stats and developments within their specific geographic area. Admittedly, this reporting system would work best if TCH operating unit management staff were part of the equation. They have access to information that the tenants may not.
This would effectively eliminate the need for last ditch efforts to include tenant voices like the Tenant's First Advisory Panel which I still haven't heard a peep from. Have you?
Whether one, or both, of my ideas are even considered remains to be seen. But either way TCH needs to begin working collaboratively with it's tenants. The medieval system at Toronto Community Housing does not work. There has been enough blood letting. I'm tired of seeing the CEO's drained of pallor and of valor. It's time we give them a team It's time we bring the governance structure at Toronto Community Housing into the 21rst century. It's not about whose "First". It's about working together.