An anonymous tip has led the new head of Toronto Community Housing to launch an investigation into what could be kickbacks and other improprieties in the way the public housing company completes repairs.
“I’m saying there’s a possibility of kickbacks and so forth,” said Eugene Jones, the president and CEO of the Toronto Community Housing Company. “It has not been investigated but we have a partner where we think there are kickbacks and shabby work and so forth and so forth.”
Jones made the comments to reporters after having told his board he’s hired an outside company to review the city’s “processes and practices for hiring vendors who do repairs” for the housing company.
After having been briefed on their preliminary findings, Jones said he and the board have hired the firm to conduct a detailed investigation.
In a statement released on the TCHC website, Jones said he had heard reports from residents about problems “that deeply disturb me: namely, that the company is wasting money.”
In the statement, he said, “I have heard stories about repairs that had to be done over two or three times because of shoddy work; stories about small repairs that were never done until they became big expensive repairs; and stories about employees being careless or cutting corners, resulting in higher costs.”
He later told reporters when asked for examples: “You just see things that have not been done and should have been done. We had a place where a plumber went out and didn’t re-patch the wall. And there was a pattern to it. Residents kept on complaining, staff kept on complaining, everyone else was complaining. Then I get this anonymous tip to put it all together, and I say, ‘Let me do an audit to validate it’...And if it is then we’ll vehemently go after whoever’s responsible for it.”
So far, the investigation is as far as it goes.
Jones said he hasn’t suspended any contracts or made any recommendations to the board yet.
He said once the investigation’s done, he’ll deal with the board.
Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao, a new member of the board, said she was pleased with Jones’ actions.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction,” she said. “The board and management at TCHC have listened to the residents very carefully and they’re taking action.”