Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.
Tory and Wynne should stop pointing fingers at one another and look within: Mochama
By 2018, without additional funding, TCH expects to close 1,000 units. Without funding from other levels of government, the number could grow to 7,500 by 2023.
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John Tory and Kathleen Wynne do not need to have a petty public beef over which one has failed to do their job on social housing. This is easy to settle: they both have.
Over the weekend, Mayor Tory walked through a Toronto Community Housing complex and handed out flyers that said, “The Ontario Government is not helping to get your house fixed.” The week prior, Tory, along with other councillors had voted to permanently close 138 housing units.
By 2018, without additional funding, TCH expects to close 1,000 units. Without funding from other levels of government, the number of closed units could grow to 7,500 by 2023 — that means almost 20,000 of Toronto’s most vulnerable people will be without a home.
Premier Wynne has said that there are other priorities across the province. One of her ministers, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca accused Tory of behaviour that “is a little bit over the line” on Monday.
Clearly, neither Tory nor Wynne has spent time in the community housing units that need their attention the most because both the city and the province are failing to serve TCH tenants.
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The total cost for TCH repairs stands at $2.6 billion. This number is not a surprise; this isn’t a tree coming through the roof during a storm. TCH, social housing advocates and residents have been asking successive governments to do something for years.
The crisis has its roots in years of neglect.
When the province shifted the burden for social housing onto municipalities, they gave little money for capital repairs. Even then, those units were nearing the end of their life. Yet, as units have edged closer to complete disrepair, Toronto city council has repeatedly found a way to not write the necessary cheque.
As TVO’s John Michael McGrath has pointed out, it’s not for lack of money; the city has lifted the cushions and dug out enough coins for the rebuilding of the Gardiner. They’ve also found the will to take the financial hit on the ongoing Scarborough subway kerfuffle by raising property taxes.
Provincially, renters have been swift to demand help in rental housing, especially once it started to affect upwardly mobile condo dwellers. They’ve received it.
Similarly, the outcry over exorbitant electricity bills prompted a relief plan, including a rebate for low-income households, which will cost $2.5 billion over the next three years. The premier apologized.
On some types of infrastructure, it seems, there is money and political will to be spent.
It is not a coincidence that TCH’s residents — the poor, seniors, immigrants, racialized people, non-citizens, and persons with disabilities — are being underserved by several levels of government. Only at these intersections of disenfranchisement and poverty can you find such political malfeasance.
Perhaps Tory and Wynne should spend a week sharing a two-bedroom apartment without heat or water.
Then we’ll see where the money is.