Toronto Community Housing tenants evicted for crime shouldn't be rehoused, council says

Toronto Community Housing tenants evicted for crime shouldn't be rehoused, council says

City council wants anyone evicted from Toronto Community Housing (TCH) to be banned from reapplying, but that will require provincial approval.

Council voted unanimously Wednesday to support Mayor John Tory's motion calling on the province to change the Housing Services Act to allow TCH to block tenants it has kicked out.

Right now, Tory said, some tenants are evicted, jailed, then wind up living in the exact same building once they're free.

"It makes no sense," the mayor said.

"Right now we have no discretion but to say 'come on back.'"

TCH staff confirmed some 260 people have been evicted for criminal activity in the last two years. Councillors were told those same people later move to the top of the waiting list for a TCH unit when they request to be rehoused.

At Queen's Park, Housing Minister Chris Ballard told reporters he's concerned with the city's proposal because it could lead to more people going homeless.

"Eviction, for these people, really means nowhere for these folks to go," Ballard said, noting the province is trying its best to end homelessness. 

He noted there's already a fast-track system that TCH can use to evict tenants involved in criminal activity and suggested those rules should suffice.

More recommendations coming this summer

Councillors, meanwhile, voted to remove two other recommendations that had been approved by Tory's executive committee until they can be studied further — including giving TCH special constables more power.

Coun. Gord Perks, who moved the motion to study those recommendations further and report back in June, argued the city should refine its plans before making requests to the province. That motion passed 38-2.

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti urged his colleagues to charge ahead, saying he's been dealing with TCH tenants scared to leave their units because of "gangbangers" for years.

"How many of those scenarios exist in Toronto?" he asked TCH staff. They replied that it happens all across the city.

Tory said he considers what council approved Wednesday to be "a minimum," and that anything less would amount to the city shirking its responsibility to keep tenants safe.

He said, as he has previously, that he hopes the province will support the plan.