Participatory Evaluation in Toronto

Participatory Evaluation in Toronto

Toronto Community Housing, the second largest housing authority in North America, has been practicing participatory budgeting since 2001. Each year, tenants have decided how to allocate up to $9 million in capital funds. In April 2009, we launched a 2-year participatory evaluation of the PB process. The purpose of the evaluation was to help tenants and staff better understand how the PB works, in order to identify and agree on improvements.

Together with 25 tenants, we evaluated each phase of the process, including local building meetings, delegate preparation, allocation days, and monitoring. The evaluation began with a series of capacity-building and planning workshops with tenant researchers, in which the tenants helped design the evaluation methodology and developed research skills. We then accompanied the tenants in observing meetings, designing survey questions, interviewing fellow tenants and staff, analyzing research findings, and developing recommendations.

Each year, we facilitated two final participatory workshops, in which a cross-section of tenants and staff reviewed a draft evaluation report and reached agreement on recommended changes for the next year’s PB process. The final findings and recommendations from the two years of evaluation are presented in the following reports:
2009 Evaluation Report
2010 Evaluation Report

Evelyn Murialdo (former director of Toronto Community Housing’s Community Health Unit): “We decided to do the participatory evaluation because we need to make a business case for the PB. We need to make sure that what we do has clear ways of being measured. We tried to do evaluations before, but this has taken us further into anchoring it in the voices of tenants. The more you give voice to tenants, the bigger the choir is going to be, and the bigger the impact.”

Magdalena Palma (tenant researcher): “I liked how the facilitators explained things to us, how they got us to work and deliberate. They gave all of us the opportunity to participate… The evaluation is useful for real growth and learning, to build up good bases in the community.”

For more information on this PB process, see PB at Toronto Community Housing.