June 12 2013
To the chagrin of its chief executive officer, the Toronto Community Housing Corp. may be asked by council to inform the city’s ombudsman whenever a senior is facing eviction for unpaid rent.
Councillor Josh Matlow made the proposal during council’s Wednesday debate on ombudsman Fiona Crean’s investigation into the TCHC’s treatment of seniors who have rent arrears.
Crean found that the social housing provider failed to implement the recommendations of a 2010 inquiry into elderly Al Gosling’s eviction and death — and that another senior, Julio Fernandez , died shortly after being improperly evicted himself in 2012.
Council will vote on Matlow’s proposal on Thursday. In an interview after Wednesday’s session, the TCHC’s CEO, Gene Jones, said he doesn’t think Crean’s oversight is necessary.
“I don’t want to do that,” Jones said. “I have my own internal mechanism. I don’t need to report and report and report. Someone’s got to be accountable, and I’m the one that’s accountable.”
Crean, conversely, said in an interview that she is “delighted” by the proposal. “What it means is that I would have the capacity to monitor: are they doing this thing properly? Have they done early intervention? Are they doing face-to-face contact? When the senior is in arrears, have they got the right kinds of supports before they evict them? So I think that’s a good thing,” Crean said.
Crean made 30 recommendations. Jones told council that he would implement them all “way before 2014.” He said he plans to report on his progress every month.
But Matlow said he is “absolutely not” comfortable leaving Jones to handle the situation on his own. He said Jones, who took over a year ago, “hasn’t demonstrated that he’s taken one action since he’s been hired” to address the problems Crean discussed.
“Frankly, if he does everything he’s promised he’d do, then he’s got nothing to fear by having oversight,” Matlow said.
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