Cynthia L. Summers - BA, MSW, RSW
Commissioner of Housing Equity
Cynthia Summers is honoured to be currently serving as serving as Toronto Community Housing’s first Commissioner of Housing Equity. She has held this role since January 2014. The role is the first of its kind in North America.
With over twenty five years of experience in the broad social services sector and a Master’s degree in Social Work, with a focus on social welfare policy, Cynthia has extensive experience in understanding and working with vulnerable persons. She has expertise in working with persons and families facing mental and physical challenges, persons of low income and new immigrants to Canada.
Her experience includes over fifteen years in the field of administrative law, having been appointed by both the federal government to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to determine refugee eligibility for newcomers to Canada and the Ontario provincial government to serve as a Member of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (now the Landlord Tenant Board). Her knowledge of administrative justice, procedural fairness and in particular the issues related to the issues of rental arrears, eviction and social housing were developed in her role determining landlord- tenant claims for over seven years.
As the founding Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Dispute Resolution at York University, Cynthia provided leadership and direction to the President and the community in the area of student conduct and crisis management. She developed a new Code of Conduct to ensure procedural fairness for students and created new processes for dealing with complaints and for alternative dispute resolution, including a University Administrative Tribunal for determining issues of serious misconduct. The mandate of the Office grew under Cynthia’s leadership to include the management of all student crises; such as student suicides, human rights violations, and medical and mental health issues.
Cynthia is an expert in Alternative Dispute Resolution and she continues to teach administrative law in the School of Business at Humber College. She is also a guest lecturer at the Schulich School of Business at York University, and at the University of Toronto.
Through her experience at the Landlord and Tenant Board Cynthia has gained a practical understanding of the necessity to implement informal resolution prior to bringing vulnerable claimants before the Board for a formal hearing. Cynthia is committed to ensuring that seniors and vulnerable tenants at Toronto Community Housing Corporation can access the supports necessary to ensure stable housing.
Cynthia is a Member of the Society of Adjudicators and Regulators of Ontario and also the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. She also volunteers at Mathew House in Toronto mentoring newly arrived refugees.
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Trevor joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity in March 2014, bringing with him a background in law, public policy and administrative review. A lawyer by training, Trevor holds an Honours Degree in Criminal Justice and Public Policy, a Law Degree from Queen’s Law and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2006.
During his time at Queen’s Law, Trevor was heavily involved with student government and Queen’s Legal Aid Clinic. Through Trevor’s work with Legal Aid, he represented individuals with various legal matters, including providing representation before the Social Benefits Tribunal and the Landlord and Tenant Board. As the President of the Queen’s Law Students Society, Trevor was active in the Faculty administration and sat on numerous Faculty committees, providing a strong student voice in the governance of the Law School. Trevor also played a leading role advocating for a variety of student interests, including province-wide initiatives relating to Tuition and Accessibility.
After graduating from Queen’s Law in 2005, Trevor practiced law at one of Toronto’s Top Litigation Law Firms until 2012. During his time in private practice, Trevor represented a variety of clients in civil lawsuits, at regulatory colleges, and before administrative tribunals. These clients included professionals such as doctors and lawyers, as well as well as families and individuals who suffered serious personal injuries. After leaving private practice, Trevor worked for the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman, where he assisted members of the public in resolving complaints relating to Provincial Ministries, Crown Corporations, Boards, Commissions, Tribunals and Agencies.
In his role as Senior Advisor, Trevor assists the Commissioner with various aspects of the OCHE’s operations, working to ensure the successful execution of the OCHE’s mandate. Trevor also guides the office in the development and implementation of its training, policies, practices and procedures, as well as critically reviewing and interpreting relevant external policies, procedures, and legislation. Trevor oversees the OCHE’s Loss of Subsidy audits, identifies trends and systemic issues related to the OCHE’s mandate, prepares various reports for the TCHC Board of Directors, and provides support, advice and guidance to the Commissioner.
Melanie joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity in March 2014, bringing with her an extensive background in both Social Services and Social Housing. She holds an Honours B.A. from the University of Toronto, where she studied Criminology and Sociology. Melanie joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity after hearing Commissioner Summer’s speak about the Office and its role, which aligned with her strong desire to help transform the way Toronto Community Housing works with seniors and vulnerable tenants facing eviction for arrears.
Melanie’s background in Social Services began with the Employment and Social Services Division of the City of Toronto, where she administered the Ontario Works Program with a specialized caseload focusing on Youth and young mothers trying to complete high school. Melanie joined Toronto Community Housing in 2006, where she held various positions, including Tenant Services Coordinator, Customer Service Facilitator and Housing Allowance Officer, and Resource Centre Facilitator with Housing Connections. Prior to joining the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity Melanie was working with the Program Services Unit of TCHC, where she was involved in the team responding to the City of Toronto Ombudsman’s Report - Housing at Risk. Melanie brings with her a deep understanding of the legislative and policy framework for Social Housing in Toronto, as well as the community resources available to support those Residents who are experiencing challenges.
In her role as Senior Advisor, Melanie supervises a team of four Early Resolution Officers and provides oversight to their work with Residents who are facing the possibility of eviction due to rental arrears. Melanie ensures that the proper rules and processes have been followed, and works directly with the Early Resolution Officers to come up with creative, achievable solutions for Residents with their arrears with an aim of Eviction Prevention. Wherever possible, Melanie identifies additional resources and supports to help provide each Resident with the best opportunity for long-term success.
Melanie is looking forward to continuing to grow with the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity. She has completed training delivered by the Ontario Ombudsman and the Society of Adjudicators and Regulators, and has recently taken Management Training which she will use in mentoring and supporting her team of Early Resolution Officers.
Early Resolution Officers
Early Resolution Officers (EROs) ensure that the proper rules and processes have been followed by Toronto Community Housing staff. The EROs also work directly with Tenants and community stakeholders to come up with creative, achievable solutions for eviction prevention with an aim at keeping individuals and families housed. Wherever possible, the EROs identify additional resources and supports to help provide each Tenant with the best opportunity for long-term success.
Early Resolution Officer
Keishia joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity in February 2017, bringing with her an extensive background in Community Mental Health, Mental Health and Justice, Social Housing and Case Management. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a focus on race and racism and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy, Administration and Law from York University. Keishia joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity with a strong desire to work within the policy and legislative frameworks that govern social housing in Ontario in order to advocate for safe and affordable housing for some of our communities most marginalized and vulnerable members.
Keishia’s career began with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Toronto, Ontario, where she conducted outreach and education to assist individuals with mental health issues and a history of involvement with the Criminal Justice system access supportive housing. Throughout her time at CMHA Keishia also worked as a Case Manager providing intensive case management support and advocacy for consumers of the mental health system, and their families.
Early Resolution Officer
Sandy joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity in August 2017, bringing with her an extensive Social Work background. Sandy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a minor in Public Administration from Ryerson University, and is a Registered Social Worker. With a focus on anti-oppression, marginalization and critical approaches to social work practice, Sandy joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity because she recognizes the need to bring awareness on how vulnerable populations are served and is committed to addressing their needs in a humane way.
Sandy’s career began as a Child Protection Worker with the Children’s Aid Society where she assisted children, youth and their families facing challenges with addictions, mental health, abandonment, abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence and homelessness. Throughout her career at the Children’s Aid Society, Sandy had the opportunity to productively impact hard to serve, marginalized populations and worked closely with stakeholders such as clinicians, lawyers, police, schools and mental health agencies. Sandy’s child welfare experience has enabled her to be actively involved in case planning, treatment, and addressing the numerous gaps and barriers in community services. Sandy is dedicated to providing caring and accountable service.
Early Resolution Officer
Glenn joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity in August 2017, bringing with him an extensive background in Community Counselling, Adventure Therapy and Case Management. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and Classical Studies from Queen’s University. Glenn joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity because he recognizes the foundational role that stable housing plays in the mental and physical well-being of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our community.
Glenn’s career began with the Ministry of Community and Social Services working with vulnerable youth in alternative custody environments to help them turn their lives around. Glenn continued his work with youth at the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka working as an outreach counsellor and team leader for youth involved in the justice system. In this role, Glenn engaged with a wide variety of community agencies and partners, overseeing the community counselling, gambling awareness and justice counselling. Most recently Glenn worked as a youth counsellor in the Manitoba Justice system.
Laura joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity in July 2017. She holds a Master in Environmental Studies degree from York University and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in International Development with a specialization in Politics, Policy and Law from Trent University. Laura joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity because she understands the importance of safe and affordable housing as being fundamental for good health, financial independence and strong communities.
Laura’s background in Social Housing began while working at Housing Connections, where she administered the housing allowance program and was responsible for facilitating information sessions and developing systems to identify trends and issues with the program’s delivery. Laura developed her strong research and administrative skills while working for a consulting company in Toronto, the York University’s Centre for Latin American and Caribbean research and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. She has also worked with charitable organizations in both New Zealand and Ecuador.
In her role as a Planning Assistant, Laura assists the Commissioner and Senior Advisors with various aspects of the OCHE’s operations, working to ensure the successful execution of the OCHE’s mandate. Laura’s duties include assisting with the OCHE’s Loss of Subsidy audits, planning the OCHE’s community outreach, supporting the preparation of various reports for the TCHC Board of Directors, and providing general support to the OCHE team.
Deneen joined the Office of the Commissioner of Housing Equity in February 2014. Deneen holds a diploma from Seneca College in Court and Tribunal Administration, and has taken continuing education courses at Ryerson in Organizational Behaviour. Deneen brings to her role extensive real-world experience in Tribunal Administration, including 15 years at the Immigration and Refugee Board, where she held various positions, including that of Administrative Coordinator for the Central Region.
As Executive Coordinator to the Commissioner of Housing Equity, Deneen applies her administrative expertise and coordination talents to support the OCHE’s mandate of helping seniors and vulnerable residents of the Toronto Community Housing who face loss of subsidy or eviction due to rental arrears, including acting as the first point of contact with the office for members of the public.
Deneen’s commitment to equity, coupled with her strong business acumen, make her an integral part of the OCHE team. Deneen is also currently pursuing a Certificate Program in the field of Health & Social Services, specializing in Case Management.
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