Toronto Community Housing’s Information Technology Services VP Luisa Andrews on the organisation’s ongoing IT transformation and what it means to its tenants

There’s great joy to be found in leading a technology team at a public sector organisation that makes a real difference for people. Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) is one such organisation. TCHC is a $9bn public asset that houses tenants in 106 of Toronto’s 158 neighbourhoods. It makes sure more than 43,000 low and moderate-income families are supported within their continuously managed homes. Those living in these buildings come from a vast array of backgrounds, paying subsidised, affordable and market rent. The Information Technology Services Team at Toronto Community Housing also supports Toronto Seniors Corporation. This works to meet the needs of people over the age of 59 via an integrated service model.

Luisa Andrews, VP Information Technology Services, has spent more than five years modernising technologies to support the mandate of Toronto Community Housing via an intensive IT transformation. This means that now, thanks to up-to-date technology, the organisation can deliver its mandate more effectively. Most importantly, it has human care at its core.

The IT landscape at Toronto Community Housing

The landscape when Andrews joined the team in 2018 was significantly different than it is today. Toronto Community Housing was an amalgamation of several housing providers which came together in 2002. With that came the people, the properties and the technologies, meaning the organisation was left with a mixed bag of elements all thrown together.

“Each of the different providers brought a different piece of technology,” Andrews explains, “and that’s why we had over 30 applications running the core business. Trying to manage integrations between them and keep master data in sync was very challenging. When I first joined, there were a couple of things I saw from a technology landscape. On the infrastructure side, there were some great technologies already in place. There was a foundation, and it was in a good place. It was the business applications that needed a lot of work.”

The IT landscape at Toronto Community Housing

Andrews and her team built a transformation program with five independent work streams with their own leads: a technical work stream, an integration stream, a data migration work stream, a business work stream, and a training, change management and communication stream. “The data migration stream was really challenging because we had all these legacy applications,” says Andrews. “We didn’t have master data that was in sync. We had the same building listed in several applications but with a slightly different address. So you can imagine trying to migrate the data and the amount of data transformation that we had to do to make sense of it all.” 

The data team was vital in making this work. There was previously little confidence in the data, but changing up the technologies used to extrapolate and analyse data changed the game for Toronto Community Housing, ensuring it now has the information available to it that it needs in order to deliver services to tenants effectively.

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