By Michael L. Van Cooten
TORONTO, Ontario (Wednesday, December 8, 2021) — Through its wholly-owned housing authority — the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) — the City of Toronto has signaled its intention to dismantle discrimination and bias, experienced by its Black tenants.
TCHC, Canada’s largest social housing agency, provides residences to nearly 60,000 households with low and moderate incomes, in neighbourhoods across the city. Its 2,100 buildings represent a $10-billion public asset.
Last Thursday, the TCHC launched a new project, labelled the Centre for Advancing the Interests of Black People (The Centre), intended to confront anti-Black racism in its workplace and communities.
The launch of the Centre marks the achievement of a key milestone in TCHC’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism (CABR) Strategy, and is one of the responses to address anti-Black racism at TCHC, the housing authority commented in a release.
Toronto Mayor, John Tory, noted that the City welcomed the TCHC “taking a steadfast approach to incorporate an anti-Black racism analysis into its culture and operations. Addressing anti-Black racism continues to be a top priority for the city.”
“The launch of the Centre and the implementation of the CABR strategy will affect not only tenants living in TCHC, but all residents across the city.
“As a city, we must continue to advocate for inclusivity and accessibility to all Torontonians. I look forward to working with the Centre and the City’s CABR unit to bring lasting change to Toronto,” he added.
The Centre’s official launch event highlighted the progress made, over the past year, and showcased presentations about the CABR Strategy’s eight-point plan, from speakers, who represented staff, tenants and stakeholders.
“Today’s launch of the Centre is just one part of an organization-wide strategy, informed through the detailed engagement of tenants and staff, to collect their ideas, feedback and concerns. We recognize that transformative change will only be possible if we equip and empower our workforce to recognize and confront anti-Black racism,” stated Jag Sharma, TCHC President and Chief Executive Officer.
“Our frontline staff will be both the benefactors and the drivers of this change, and I am grateful for their support in this vital work. As an organization, we are committed to giving Black tenants and staff who have been affected by anti-Black racism the support and protection they need to help us reconstruct our communities to better serve us all.”
The Centre is aimed at creating a space for conversations about race and anti-Black racism, and driving innovative responses and remedies that confront anti-Black racism, and all forms of discrimination and prejudice.
The goals of the Centre include:
1. Leading the implementation of the CABR Strategy and its eight-point plan.
2. Collaborating with other TCHC teams, to implement divisional action plans, to help support the advancement of the CABR Strategy, over the next three years.
3. Guiding the changes that will help to dismantle anti-Black racism in TCHC’s policies, procedures and operations.
4. Engaging with the newly-established tenant-staff oversight and advisory board bodies, to ensure accountability, transparency and implementation of the CABR Strategy.
5. To provide semi-annual reports, about the CABR Strategy, to the TCHC Board of Directors.
Staffed with 15 full-time employees, the Centre is intended to create positive outcomes for Black tenants and staff, by identifying and confronting anti-Black racism, embedded within the organization.
Evelyn Amponsah, the inaugural Director of the Centre, remarked: “On behalf of the Centre, I want to thank the staff and tenants, who have been a part of the CABR work over the past year. Your voices, your efforts and — most importantly — your time, have been crucial to getting us to this point.
“Together, we have started the journey to reconstruct community housing and eradicate anti-Black racism. That journey will be long, and not without setbacks, but I am honoured to lead a team of passionate professionals, who are committed to this work. Together, we will bring to bear, tangible and meaningful new ways to tackle anti-Black racism, and create positive change that helps to reshape our communities and this city.”