A Toronto task force report recommends turning the city's community housing program into a non-profit to improve sustainability.

Led by Sen. Art Eggleton, the six-person task force presented its report at City Hall on Tuesday, after a year of conducting evaluations and interviewing residents.

The report recommends that the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) become an arm’s length, non-profit organization separate from the city.

Removing TCHC from the city's books would increase its power to borrow money, he said. The new organization would not be affected by the city's debt ceiling limits.

"TCHC does not have the revenues it needs to manage and maintain good-quality homes," Eggleton said.

Currently, TCHC has a $2.56 billion capital repair backlog, and another "serious shortfall" in operating funds, he said. The operating deficit is projected to reach $200 million by the end of this year.

"TCHC needs long-term financial, and it needs long-term social, sustainability," Eggleton told reporters during a news conference.

"We believe that the significant changes recommended in our report can put TCHC back on its feet – as a socially and economically sustainable company that provides the very best housing for its tenants, offers access to services for those who need them, is accountable to the people paying the bills, and is a good neighbour to all the residents of Toronto."

The new, non-profit version of TCHC would operate with a "customer service" focus where tenants are seen as the primary stakeholders, Eggleton said. Tenants would also have more voice in its governance, the report suggested.

In addition to the non-profit recommendation, the report suggests a change in the ratio of market-rent units in TCHC buildings to encourage "better social integration" and provide more revenue.

Under the current system, buildings that host market-rent units do so at a ratio of one to 9. Ninety per cent of units in the buildings are rent-geared-to-income units, while 10 per cent are rented at market rates.

The task force suggests changing the ratio to allow up to 30 per cent of units to be rented at market rates.

"We believe this mix of people of different income levels will lead to stronger communities and neighbourhoods," Eggleton said.

Eggleton's task force suggested TCHC revisit its approach to vulnerable tenants, and consider building on-site areas for support services to those with mental health or addiction problems, and issues associated with aging.

The task force also recommends:

  • Changing TCHC's mandate to include rehabilitation, redevelopment and demolition of aging properties
  • Moving to a decentralized organizational structure that would be more responsive to tenant needs by region of the city

The full report is available online