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As part of a Ford government promise, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) has implemented new rules that will prevent criminals charged with serious offences, such as drug trafficking or gun violence, from immediately reapplying for community housing.
These latest changes will address regulations and loopholes which have allowed violent criminals to reapply upon eviction and ultimately go back to living in the exact same building from which they were just evicted.
According to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, these changes will give the TCHC the ability to “say no” to criminal tenants. Addressing rising gun violence in the GTA, as well as making non-criminal tenants feel safe, is a major contributing factor to this decision.
“We are allowing local service managers to make the determinations. They are the people on the ground and they know the circumstances with their own building so we are allowing them to deal with the implementation of the policy,” Clark said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory is supporting the regulatory changes, emphasizing the problem of gun violence and protecting tenants from dangerous offenders.
“There is no one solution to the problem of gun violence,” Tory said at a press conference Monday. “This will help to keep people who have been convicted of serious offences, including firearm-related offences, from having the right to be rehoused in the very building from which they were evicted.
“Our job is to protect the broader interests of the tenants and when you have an instance where somebody has been evicted for serious criminal behaviour,” Tory continued. “I think it is very fair and I thank the government for allowing TCHC to have the discretion to say no. I recognize it could cause a problem for that person but it is one of those things where you have to put the wellbeing of many tenants first.”
Tory also said that TCHC tenants should immediately make social housing managers and authorities aware of ongoing criminal activity inside the residences. In addition to the regulatory changes, a beefing up of security was announced to compliment the tenant-first policy changes and handle criminals who often come as guests to visit and engage in illegal activity with those inside.
“We’re going to need kind of the grapevine to get us that information,” Tory said. “[The criminals] are not trying to live in the housing but are coming as ‘guests’ but they’re not welcome guests. In many cases, they’re forcing themselves on people who live in these buildings.”