Tenants say they're against privatizing TCHC
Published Monday, March 7, 2011 3:00PM EST
A group of community housing tenants say they don't want elected members of Toronto Community Housing Corporation to step down, fearing it will help pave the way for the agency's privatization.
Tenants held two press conferences in downtown Toronto on Monday afternoon amid mounting pressure from City Hall for the agency's boss and remaining board members to step down over improper spending.
"We are very disappointed that the mayor has never asked us for our viewpoints on how to improve social housing in Toronto, and we are disappointed that no one seems to be talking about what makes good housing, stronger communities and healthier communities," tenant Susan Gapka said at an event held Monday near Regent Park.
Others said they fear that privatizing the agency will have a negative impact on the 164,000 people who live in community housing run by TCHC. Mayor Rob Ford has said he hopes to privatize a number of agencies owned by the city, including TCHC.
"I'm asking Mayor Ford to think of privatization not as a cure but as an illness, to think of the symptoms of privatization, to think of what he's doing to all the communities that are under the wing of Toronto Community Housing," said Munira Abukar, another tenant.
On Thursday, seven of the agency's 13 board members resigned after an auditor's report revealed between $4 million and $10 million was wasted on sole-sourced contracts. The report also revealed issues with record-keeping at the agency and found that $200,000 was misspent on luxury chocolates, spa trips and a party.
Following the resignations, Ford and his allies on council said they would like to see agency CEO Keiko Nakamura and the board's two elected tenant representatives give up their roles so the agency can have a fresh start.
But at a separate press conference on Davenport Road organized by another TCHC tenant on Monday, elected board member Dan King said he will not step down unless he is forced to by City Council.
"We'd like to complete our term and be held accountable by our tenants," Dan King said. "We expect that."
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday plans to put forward a motion at Tuesday's council meeting to dismantle the remainder of the board and start the process of appointing a new one. That could take at least a month.
King said he was never given an expense account and even "had trouble getting a free cup of tea at the board meetings."
But he admitted the board did not have enough information about how TCHC funds were being spent.
To fix that, King said the board had recommended implementing "CitiStat," which is a way to evaluate public policies and services pioneered by the city of Baltimore. Doing so could go a long way to "eliminate waste" in Toronto, he said.
With a report from CTV's Zureidah Alman