Toronto Community Housing CEO Greg Spearn asks for patience on repairs

Toronto Community Housing is Toronto’s largest landlord and, according to one recent ranking, it’s also the city’s worst.

The ranking comes from a list put together by the advocacy group ACORN and the apartment rental site Rentlogic. The ranking is based on city investigations into TCH buildings and confirms what’s been widely reported: that many TCH buildings are in a poor state of repair.

TCH CEO Greg Spearn appeared on Metro Morning Friday and said part of the problem is the organization’s massive size. TCH manages about 2,100 buildings, an inventory of properties that includes everything from single-family homes to apartment buildings with hundreds of units.

“One of the reasons our numbers are high is sheer volume,” Spearn told host Matt Galloway on Friday. “[The high complaint numbers are] reflective of the number of the homes we have.”

Spearn said about 15 years ago it became apparent TCH wasn’t spending enough to maintain its buildings, many of which are decades old. He said TCH is now playing catch-up, working through a massive repair backlog that is sucking up both time and money.

According to Spearn, the city set aside $2.6 billion for repairs in 2013. By the end of this year, about a quarter of that money will be spent, a pace of work Spearn said amounts to 11,000 individual repairs a day.

He admitted the current state of many buildings is not acceptable but said “we are taking steps to fix it.”

Asked whether TCH is simply too large an organization to operate effectively, Spearn said he doesn’t believe breaking up TCH will benefit tenants.

In the meantime, Spearn said he wants to hear from residents who are having problems in their homes.

“We are four years into our 10-year repair program, please be patient,” he said. “If there is a burning issue, I want to know about it.”