September 25, 2015 4:40 pm
Updated: September 25, 2015 6:31 pm

Toronto Community Housing tackles massive repair backlog

WATCH ABOVE: Mayor John Tory, joined by TCHC interim president Greg Spearn, Councillor Ana Bailao and Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, announced the $66-million ReSet pilot project Friday morning at the Firgrove Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood.

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TORONTO — Toronto Community Housing is launching a new program that will bundle capital repair projects and encourage resident input in order to take on a growing, multi-billion-dollar backlog of unsafe, deteriorating housing infrastructure.

Mayor John Tory, joined by TCHC interim president Greg Spearn, Councillor Ana Bailao and Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, announced the $66-million ReSet pilot project Friday morning at the Firgrove Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood.

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The project is designed to fix just under 900 units in three public housing neighbourhoods.

$27 million will be invested in Firgrove; $19 million at Lawrence Orton community housing and $20 million to Queensway Windermere.

Toronto Community Housing will need to spend $2.6 billion in repairs over the next decade; they don’t know where $1.73 billion of that will come from.

There are almost 100,000 families on the city’s public-housing wait list.

“ReSet will enable us to address multiple building needs at once. This will lower the cost of making repairs and help us stretch our precious capital repair dollars,” Spearn said.

The idea is to bundle multiple repair jobs in each community and deliver them in one project, under a single general contractor, Tory said.

“That is going to make a big difference in the lives of these people and the housing that we own and in which they live.”

The project gives residents the opportunity to provide input on repair priorities to common areas as well as security and safety improvements.

“Residents felt the old system – where there was one tenant rep and that person was expected to speak on behalf of every one – wasn’t working in terms of people feeling a part of a community where they had a voice,” Tory said.

“That’s what this is about, creating a basic standard of living that is owned by the people and is provided to some of our citizens … a safe clean home, getting these repairs done in cost effective basis and on a time sensitive basis and including the residents in the decision making.”

The project promises to remove dimly lit garages that often house criminal activity, something Muna Mohammed, a resident at Firgrove and member of the TCHC task force, says is one of the biggest priorities.

“A lot of shootings have happened – I think like a week and half ago there was one just behind me. That is obviously a safety thing,” Mohammed said.

“It’s public space. It should look public. It should be all open and easy for anybody to walk through any time any day without worrying about anything happening to them.”

READ MORE: Big city mayors demand big funding for social housing

Toronto needs additional funding from upper levels of government, Tory said.

“I stood before the media with mayors from across the country [earlier this week] and we spoke about the need for secure commitment on the financial side for affordable housing in the years ahead from all of the federal parties,” Tory said.

“I expect the provincial and federal governments will recognize – not only their moral obligation, not only the fact that they have sources of income in their revenue stream that we don’t have beyond property taxes – and the fact that this is about the economy.

“This is going to create jobs for working men and women to do the work and is also going to be an investment in better housing and in turn going to make Toronto a place where we can keep jobs and retain jobs and attract jobs.”

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