On public housing: why vouchers aren’t a quick fix

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In this month’s Toronto Life, Brian Topp looks into the fall-out from the TCHC scandal and takes a broad look at alternative delivery models for public housing. On the mayor’s favourite magical cure-all fix — rent vouchers — Topp writes:

Instead of integrating the poor into mixed-income areas, vouchers have had the effect of concentrating them into pockets of sometimes grossly substandard private housing owned by neglectful landlords—the same kind of ghettoization the vouchers were designed to put an end to. Policing abuses would require teams of well trained and managed overseers, but program administrators (like those running the TCH) are the principal targets of populist right-wingers these days—their jobs are the ones pro-privatization types are keen to eliminate.

via Why selling off Toronto’s public housing is a bad idea | From the Print Edition | torontolife.com.

Topp concludes with the suggestion that a decentralized model for Toronto public housing administration could be more effective than the current situation, where TCHC is “one of the biggest landlords of any kind in North America.” There’s a lot of merit to that.

It’s worth mentioning that this is likely the kind of analysis and debate that we could have had in the wake of the spending scandal had the mayor followed the process and let this proceed to the audit committee. Instead, those with first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of the organization were forced to resign or were fired before they could be publicly questioned.

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