Don’t go private, Toronto Community Housing resident pleads

Pam Smith says she hopes the scandal surrounding the Toronto Community Housing Corporation doesn’t spur privatization.

The 501 Adelaide resident voiced her concerns at an emergency meeting March 3, called after a damning report by the city auditor revealed financial mismanagement at the housing corporation.

TCHC chair David Mitchell and seven civilian board members resigned at the meeting, while two tenant representatives on the board vowed to stay on until tenants tell them otherwise. CEO Keiko Nakamura also announced she would not resign.

Smith says if the mismanagement leads to the city privatizing the TCHC, she said, tenants will no longer be able to afford their homes and will be forced out.

“Don’t take housing away from us,” she said.

Mayor Rob Ford has been outspoken in his belief that the TCHC should be privatized because of what was revealed in the auditor’s report.

Mitchell admitted the mismanagement was inexcusable.

“People expect public institutions to meet the highest standards of accountability when spending money,” he said. “We agree.”

But Mitchell said the board took issue with the mayor’s talk of privatizing the housing corporation.

“His announced desire yesterday to privatize the TCHC … runs contrary to our collective views,” Mitchell said. “We cannot effectively work when the mayor is unreachable for constructive dialogue.”

Mitchell said the TCHC encountered numerous issues when attempting to rectify the mismanagement.

“Unfortunately the present political reality has made it untenable to effectively govern,” he said. “The mayor has spurned the shareholders agreement and governs TCHC by announcing unilaterally through the media that he has lost confidence in us as a board and does not wish for us to proceed with due process.”

Nakamura said $28,000 of the misspent funds are immediately recoverable, with 63 per cent of that already recovered. Nakamura also announced that purchasing cards have been eliminated in an attempt to put further controls on spending.