Decision to sell over 700 TCHC homes held off until September

Amtol Ahmed, a mother of two, received notice last July that her family may soon have to move as their home of 10 years, owned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), may be sold.

“Why [would] the government give [us] a house if they’re going to sell it five to 10 years later?” she says. “They didn’t give us a letter when they gave us this house. How are they going to tell me now to get out?”

Since that notice in July, a meeting at city hall to discuss selling 740 single-family TCHC units — home to 2,600 people — has been delayed three times. Originally scheduled for Jan. 24, then Feb. 13, the item was finally heard on Friday, when members of council voted to postpone the ultimate decision until September.

The money Mayor Rob Ford and some city councillors hope to raise from selling these properties at market value is set to go toward TCHC’s $650-million repair backlog.

The city’s handling of its thousands of TCHC tenants is a “patronizing experiment,” said University of Toronto professor Jason Hackworth, who has researched extensively on social housing and municipal spending. The money raised by selling these units, he said, would only cover a portion of TCHC’s multimillion-dollar backlog.

Before Ahmed moved into their Scarborough TCHC home, she and her husband lived at an apartment complex, which, she said, was frequented by drug users, and featured loud disturbances at all hours and little room for her children to play.

In a letter from TCHC, Ahmed is told that she and her family will be forced to move back to the apartment complex if city councillors vote to sell her home.

“[It’s] not right,” she said. “We were going crazy [there].”

Complicating matters for TCHC tenants like Ahmed who face eviction if their homes are sold is the lengthy waitlist of 87,175 people looking to get into a TCHC unit. According to a city report, there are 5,532 housing vacancies.

“There are certainly not enough social housing or rental co-op units being built to match the ones being sold,” says Hackworth.