TCH announces massive restructuring amid personnel turmoil, security concerns

Toronto Community Housing announced a massive restructuring Friday as the public housing agency grapples with both a repair backlog and security concerns at its buildings, and turmoil among its senior staff.

The changes move decision-making away from TCH’s head office and into each building and community, and are aimed at improving service for the corporation’s more than 100,000 tenants across the city, said a press release issued Friday morning.

According to the release, the changes are part of a restructuring plan approved by the TCH board on Thursday.

Among the changes is the appointment of Sheila Penny as TCH’s new chief operating officer (COO). Penny had served as the acting chief executive officer (CEO) before former TCH board chair Kevin Marshman took over that role on a permanent basis.

Other changes include:

  • Merging the corporation’s two divisions — Asset Management and Tenant and Community Services — into one group under the COO “to close service gaps and establish clear, common lines of accountability.”
  • Creating local “teams” in 134 buildings and community hubs made up of front-line staff, each of which will be led by building superintendents and will be “empowered to make more customer service decisions on-site, instead of being caught up in a lengthy process.”
  • Establishing three regional offices, each with a general manager that will report to the new COO.

A spokesperson for TCH denied Friday that the changes stem from an investigation by Rubin Thomlinson into the public housing agency’s human resources practices. A report based on that investigation is in the hands of TCH staff but has not been made public.

Changes ‘long overdue,’ spokesperson says

“The restructuring, announced today, is long overdue,” Bruce Malloch, TCH’s director of strategic communications, told CBC Toronto in an email.

“Toronto Community Housing has many dedicated employees who want to do a better job providing services to tenants, and we are putting in place a structure that will best make that happen.”

Last month, Marshman attended a community meeting at the Falstaff Community Centre near Jane and Keele streets about the spike in gun violence in the city and TCH residents’ concerns about security at their buildings.

Marshman said that, starting this month, full-time security officers will be stationed in the Jane and Falstaff community. He also pledged enhanced lighting around buildings and cameras on roadways in and out of the complex that can capture licence plates. He also said TCH hopes to conduct a community safety audit.

Earlier this year, the federal government pledged some $1.3 billion in funding to help fix a repair backlog at TCH buildings. The funding, Marshman told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning in April, was slated to go toward renovating about 58,000 TCH units.

Late last year, TCH’s then-CEO Kathy Milsom was put on administrative leave amid another external review, which looked into the procurement of a contract with a management consultant agency. Milsom was fired with cause in February.

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