Mayor wants to make it easier to evict criminals from TCH

By News Staff

The mayor is hoping to make it easier for Toronto Community Housing (TCH) to evict criminals. The executive committee approved a motion on Wednesday afternoon to petition the province to change its legislation.

In the letter (posted below), Mayor John Tory asked for two big changes. The first would allow TCH to refuse to re-house a tenant who has already been evicted for criminal issues. The second would allow security to refuse entry to problematic guests.

“We’re going to make the formal request, which means there will be less excuse for inaction,” Tory said Wednesday. “I think these are changes that should be made.”

TCH said evicting so called thugs isn’t even its biggest problem. Instead, it’s keeping them out.

“The challenge we have is what happens if a person is evicted, they can easily become a priority to return because they are without housing,” TCH CEO Greg Spearn said.

“So even though they may have done something illegal or highly disruptive to everyone else, we have no choice but to re-house them and cannot screen them out.”

Since 2015, the organization has started eviction proceedings against more than 230 tenants for guns, violent crimes and drugs. Less than a quarter were successfully evicted. Fifty people were kicked out. Another 80 remain in the hearing process.

“I think sometimes it’s easier to get rid of someone who isn’t paying their rent than it is to have a criminal removed from the TCH,” Coun. Paula Fletcher said.

Spearn insisted the changes would not mean someone with a criminal record who has served his or her time would no longer be eligible for public housing.

“We’re not looking to preclude people like that,” he said. “We’re just looking to make our community safer and you got to start somewhere.”

In August, a 61-year-old grandmother was shot dead as she sat on her daughter’s back porch. Peggy Ann Smith was killed near Broadview and Dundas streets in what police believe was a targeted shooting. However, the Riverdale grandmother of 13 wasn’t the intended victim.

Police called the shooting a “cowardly act” and asked members of the public to come forward with information to help solve her murder.

A community council has approved changing the name of a public laneway in the area to Peggy Ann Smith Lane in honour of the slain grandmother. It came after 200 residents petitioned the city to make the change.

Meanwhile, Tory’s motion to help TCH evict criminals will be up at City Council next Wednesday.

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