(Toronto) June 6, 2013 – Tenant advocates call for change at Canada’s largest social housing landlord in response to a damning evidence of mistreatment of senior tenants contained in a report introduced this morning by the City of Toronto Ombudsman, Fiona Crean.
“The Ombudsman found Toronto’s most vulnerable continue to be afraid of losing their home,” said Grace Pluchino from Downsview Community Legal Services. “Everyone has the right to housing and TCHC has the right to collect the rent, the point in which we disagree is how they go about rent collection – which does not maintain the tenants’ dignity.”
Housing At Risk is the result of an investigation of 79 cases of seniors evicted in 2011 and 2012 by Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). The Ombudsman found that TCHC staff exhibited a pattern of callous and unfair treatment of elderly tenants, including a case where a senior died shortly after being evicted.
“Just as Justice LeSage concluded in 2010, we see that the problem is not that TCHC lacks humane eviction prevention policies,” said Linda Mitchell of Scarborough Community Legal Services. “The real problem is the lack of political will, and accountability at TCHC and the City of Toronto to make sure those policies are applied fairly and consistently, once and for all.”
In 2009, TCHC evicted Al Gosling, a senior living on a fixed-income, after TCHC raised his rent improperly and he fell into arrears. Homeless, he died shortly thereafter. Justice Patrick LeSage led an inquiry that resulted in 81 recommendations to the social housing provider.
“Vulnerable tenants need greater protection from unjustified evictions,” said Kenn Hale, of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. “Within weeks the Legislature has the opportunity to prevent more of these tragedies from occurring by allowing the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) to review the correctness of rent calculations by social housing landlords.”
Bill 14 – Non-Profit Housing Cooperatives Act, currently before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, could be amended to allow the LTB to determine the legal rent owed, providing a final safeguard for vulnerable tenants. The cases identified by the Ombudsman include LTB ordered evictions of seniors for incorrectly calculated rent arrears.
Over 200,000 Ontario households live in social housing, including 58,500 in Toronto Community Housing. An additional forty-four thousand households live in housing co-ops.
To schedule interviews with staff from Community Legal Clinics please contact:
Yutaka Dirks, 416-597-5855 ext. 5243 or 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5243
You can also read more about this story in the Toronto Star here:
TCHC is still needlessly evicting seniors: ombudsman
TCHC to Hyla: Sorry. Hyla to ombud: Thanks.