Who we are
LeSage Report, 2010
The Board of Directors of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) engaged the Hon. Patrick LeSage to review the company's eviction prevention policies, procedures and practices, with emphasis on how they were applied in the case of a senior Toronto Community Housing resident who lost his housing subsidy, got into rental arrears, and was then evicted. This resident then became homeless, contracted an infection in a shelter and died in hospital months later.
One of the many recommendations in the LeSage Report was to create an independent Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity (OCHE), to review matters where a senior Toronto Community Housing resident is facing the possibility of eviction for rental arrears. The OCHE was described by Justice LeSage as a remedial measure to prevent further occurrences similar to those experienced by the resident that led to the report.
Housing at Risk
In October 2012, as a result of complaints, the City of Toronto Ombudsman began an investigation into the eviction of seniors living in Toronto Community Housing for non-payment of rental arrears. The investigation centred on whether eviction prevention policies were applied consistently, and were in keeping with Justice LeSage’s recommendations.
In June 2013, the City of Toronto Ombudsman released the results of her investigation in a report titled Housing at Risk, in which 30 recommendations were made, including that Toronto Community Housing should implement the outstanding recommendations made in the LeSage Review. City Council adopted all 30 recommendations, and these recommendations were similarly adopted by the Toronto Community Housing Board of Directors.
Creation of the OCHE
On June 17, 2013, the Toronto Community Housing Board of Directors adopted the recommendations in the "Housing at Risk" report, and specifically directed the President and CEO to establish an independent Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity. An External Advisory Committee (EAC) of 16 members was created. Co-chaired by a resident board member and citizen board member, the committee included Toronto Community Housing residents, legal clinics, community stakeholders, City of Toronto staff, and subject experts from Toronto Community Housing.
The EAC was responsible for recommending the role and job functions, the qualifications of the Commissioner, the organization of the office and staff and the physical location of the office, and for evaluating the functioning of the OCHE after at least six months of operation. The co-chairs were also responsible for establishing a Search Committee to recruit for the position of Commissioner, which included the co-chairs, a community legal clinic representative, a representative of the City of Toronto, and a Toronto Community Housing resident. The EAC met regularly between September and December 2013, and those meetings were open to the public.
The EAC reported back to the Toronto Community Housing Board in December 2013, with the results of the EAC’s work.
The OCHE today
The OCHE is responsible for reviewing those files referred to it by Toronto Community Housing to ensure that TCH staff have followed the relevant legislation, as well as Toronto Community Housing’s own policies, procedures and practices. The OCHE will also work to promote the resolution of those files.
In the course of its work, if the OCHE determines the Toronto Community Housing resident requires additional assistance to support their tenancy, the OCHE will work with Toronto Community Housing staff to connect the resident to community resources, services and supports.
For those senior or vulnerable Toronto Community Housing residents facing the threat of eviction for arrears, the goal of the OCHE is to complete its review and resolution attempts within 30 business days of the referral. An eviction application to the Landlord Tenant Board for arrears will only proceed after the matter is reviewed and the application approved by the OCHE.
The OCHE reports directly to the Toronto Community Housing Board of Directors. The OCHE will not only report on the work that the office does, but also provide the Board with strategic guidance and direction on additional measures that could be in place to protect vulnerable Toronto Community Housing residents at risk of losing their subsidies or facing eviction for arrears.
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Who we help
The OCHE became operational on April 1, 2014. For the first six months, the OCHE was to focus on seniors (age 59 and older) who may be losing their subsidy or face eviction for rental arrears. This mandate is to expand at the 6 month mark (October 1, 2014) to include “vulnerable residents.” Toronto Community Housing continues to work on a definition of “vulnerable resident” and a process by which those residents would be identified to the OCHE.
Our mandate is to help:
- Seniors who may be losing their subsidy or face eviction for rental arrears
- “Vulnerable residents” as defined by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, who may be losing their subsidy or face eviction for rental arrears
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