To develop an interactive mapping platform that would overlay municipal apartment inspection data with user & organizational contributed data with the goal of growing the number of low income tenants involved in campaigns for fair housing.
The project will utilize the Municipal Licensing and Standards Open Data set, evaluate and utilize a mapping platform and include SMS contributed data from tenants,
This will create a interactive map of the large number of outstanding work orders and bad landlords across the city of Toronto. It will help to raise awareness about the problem and be used to put pressure on city council to create effective tenant enforcement system.
Over the last 8 years Toronto ACORN has been a leading advocate of the adoption of a municipal Landlord Licensing system to fund proactive inspections of residential rental units. While our campaign has helped us win repairs in numerous building, the biggest success of the campaign has been the creation of the MRAB-AEP program. This new program - for the first time in post-amalgamation Toronto – creates a proactive inspection regime that inspects apartment building across Toronto. While this system is a step forward from the former re-active complaints driven system, its deficiencies are painfully clear; of the 119 apartment building inspected and levied 681 work orders in the first 9 months since its deployment only 100 have been complied with. Further of the 581 outstanding work orders there have been only 9 prosecutions and 4 remedial actions. (All numbers taken from http://www.toronto.ca/licensing/mrab.htm - accurate as of Sept. 10th).
This map could be crucial to help raise awareness of this immense problem. It could also help to make the reports of substandard housing more accurate. As stated above the system is still mostly complaint driven and the process to get complaints to the MLS department is complicated and time consuming but this interactive map will create an alternative means for tenants to public report the problems in their unit and building. The City department at this point still acts as a gate keeper to exposing the real magnitude of this problem.
The tenants of Toronto have a right to live in healthy apartment units. Especially in Toronto where rents are $700 - $1200 for the cheapest units available. Low income single moms often have to raise their children in unhealthy conditions. Reports of mold, cockroaches and bed bugs are common. The city of Toronto has laws in the Municipal Code that state various standard of maintenance laws such as no pest infestation, mold and repairs to be done with in a give time line. The city of Toronto is very weak on the enforcement of these laws and this is the clear social good this interactive map could do.
An interactive mapping platform that would overlay municipal apartment inspection data with user & organizational contributed data with the goal of growing the number of low income tenants involved in campaigns for fair housing.
The project will utilize the Municipal Licensing and Standards Open Data set, evaluate and utilize a mapping platform and include SMS contributed data from tenants.
ACORN staff would like to be able to pull the user contributed data out of the map as well – (ie the phone numbers)
ACORN staff can raise awareness to its members about how they can contribute SMS information to the map if their unit is in disrepair. A large percentage of our membership does not have regular access to the internet as they are low and moderate income individuals. However, they are increasing using cell phones so SMS is a perfect solution here.
1) The city of Toronto somewhat updates their information. So staff could potentially up load that data. I am not sure we have the capacity to do this piece, but it is worth exploring
As stated above for the tenants to contribute it needs to be SMS. And there may be a need to train staff to upload city of Toronto data.
Nothing that hasn’t been mentioned.
Josh already sent a data file to the some of the hackers
KNOWN EXISTING SOLUTIONS:
The city of Toronto updates their website on a semi regular basis with data about their apartment inspections program. http://www.toronto.ca/licensing/mrab.htm
POTENTIAL TECH SKILLS NEEDED:
We are low tech. One thing that will be helpful is some sort of capacity training so ACORN staff can upload the most recent info posted on the city’s website. If this isn’t possible the SMS user contributed data will still be extremely useful with out updates from the city’s data.