Based on TCHC's Tenant Priority Transfer Consultation that occurred on May 17th, 2018 there are many recommendations that they will hopefully consider before moving forward. This list includes items that should happen before, during, and after such transfers in order for this to be a successful program within Toronto Community Housing.
First of all, even Graham Leah (Vice President of Asset Management at TCHC) agrees that the first step that needs to be taken is to audit the current priority wait lists. He is fully aware that many of those people on the list have moved on - whether just to another physical location or to the After Life. Both of which should have automatically led to their removal from the priority transfer lists as they are currently defined.
During this new process Toronto Community Housing has indicated that they will have one dedicated staff member to handle the Crisis Priority Transfer process from beginning to end.
From my perspective that raises a couple of questions. Number one how does TCHC plan on training the necessary number of staff appropriately? There obviously needs to be some level of competency. The consequences are significantly different from some of the incidents of incompetence I have encountered in TCHC staff. Not being able to assist in a grant writing process is small potatoes compared to not being about to deal with a individual or family in crisis.
These staff members will be dealing with individuals/families that happen to have either experienced a traumatic/violent incident or someone who is experiencing severe restrictions due to a disability. TCHC's timeline indicates that once they hire additional staff there will be one month of training. Is that enough time to make sure that these staff are provided with sensitivity training for both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or sensitivity training to persons with disabilities?
If, during the application process there becomes a conflict between the tenant and the TCHC Crisis Priority Transfer staff member that has been assigned to them, is there a detailed Conflict Resolution Process that will be made available to the tenant?
Ideally, once a tenant has been approved for the Crisis Priority Transfer List TCHC is going to look at a tenant needs. Then based on those needs TCHC will identify then offer the tenant two or three units. If the tenant does not approve of any of those units they are immediately removed from the list. When you get down to it that makes sense. The idea of a tenant applying to the Crisis Priority List should be based on NEED not want. No longer will tenants be able to hold out for their favourite location which just so happens to have the lowest turnover rate in the TCHC portfolio. Nor will they be able to decline five or six offers of available units.
If all else fails, and someone has been declined a transfer, is there going to be an appeals process? What might that look like? Or is that something else that the City of Toronto will insist on shaping as they have with both the Tenants First panel and the appointment of the two new tenant members to the TCHC Board of Directors?
Finally, is there going to be a survey that tenants can fill out once their Crisis Priority Transfer is complete and they have finally started unpacking in their new home? In the interest of being “tenant-centric” maybe it would be best for TCHC to document any concerns that tenants may have about their experiences as this new process rolls out.
This would allow TCHC the opportunity to make modifications to the program in a timely manner that would reduce the amount of additional stress that could have devastating consequences for those that already self-identify as being in Crisis.