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ACORN forces mayor, Toronto Community Housing to town hall to hear tenants’ demands - ACORN Canada

ACORN forces mayor, Toronto Community Housing to town hall to hear tenants’ demands

Posted June 3, 2024


On Thursday, May 30th, York West ACORN capped off a two-month long organizing drive in public housing around Jane & Finch with a town hall for tenants living in Toronto Community Housing. There, the tenants presented demands to the Mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow, and numerous City officials in charge of the operations and security of public housing, including the new President & CEO of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), Sean Baird.

Over the last two months, ACORN members have knocked on hundreds of doors, handed out thousands of flyers, and spoke to their neighbours about the longstanding issues facing tenants of Toronto Community Housing. The local organizing committee adopted a list of twelve demands to rally around. They were:

  1. Hire more staff in Tenant Service Hubs and the Client Care Centre, with a focus on multilingual staff.
  2. Mandate annual sensitivity training for all TCHC staff, including anti-racism training and accessibility training.
  3. Provide ACORN with a plan within six months to provide on-site superintendent services with staff members living on-site.
  4. Prioritize staff recruitment and retention from amongst the TCHC tenant population.
  5. Audit and expedite all outstanding work orders, and ensure that all future work orders are addressed within three months of their receipt by TCHC.
  6. Schedule biannual building-wide pest control treatments in all TCHC buildings.
  7. Provide free assistance for tenants to prepare their units for pest control inspections and treatments, under the supervision of a TCHC staff member.
  8. Provide access to consensual, discrete, and trauma-informed mental health and addiction services, including wellness checks, for tenants.
  9. Increase funding to the Violence Reduction Program to expand it to all TCHC buildings, with the eventual goal of providing 24/7 security presence at all TCHC buildings.
  10. Audit CCTV systems and conduct necessary repairs within three months thereafter.
  11. Fight union-busting, recognize ACORN, and allow TCHC tenant committee members and community representatives to simultaneously hold ACORN membership.
  12. Work with ACORN, holding regular meetings to track progress on these demands.

At the much anticipated town hall, over seventy people and news crews crammed into a room with a capacity of forty, and there was much excitement in the air when the Mayor addressed the crowd. She spoke of the successes ACORN has had in its organizing in the neighbourhood, and vowed to work with City officials to improve conditions in Toronto Community Housing.

ACORN leader Edina Edmunds then posed ACORN’s demands to the President & CEO of TCHC, Sean Baird. All eyes were on him as he committed to most of the demands presented, excepting #3, #7, #9 because of funding constraints. The Mayor and CEO both signed onto the demands, as the room erupted into cheers!

The town hall closed off with tenants questioning City officials directly about the neglect and disrespect they’ve faced at the hands of TCHC. Commitments were made to work with ACORN to implement these demands, and ACORN members living in public housing are ready to hold TCHC’s feet to the fire to ensure they follow through on their promises.

Organizing works!

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