A senior citizen living in La Ronge would like to see a change in policy with the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation after he said he was unable to recouperate money he overpaid in rent.
“I would like to see this resolved, and they can but won’t,” Philip Chenard said. “They won’t change their policy and that’s pretty much a given. Give me back what I overpaid, and I’ll be happy.”
Chenard rented a one-bedroom suite from the La Ronge Regional Housing Authority for 14 years and he said he didn’t know he had to inform them when he had a change in income last year. In December, Chenard was laid off from his job where he was earning an additional $8,000 per year on top of his pensions. He thought he could make ends meet without the money, but then his health started to decline.
It wasn’t until October when Chenard approached management with the local housing authority about his drop in income. They agreed to reduced his rent by $80 per month, but he said they were unwilling to pay him back the $800 difference since January. A letter sent to Chenard from housing authority manager Sheila Woytowich confirmed the corporation wasn’t going to provide a refund.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher,” he said. “I had a heart attack a couple of months ago. My meds can run upwards to $300 to $400 per month. What am I going to do?”
Chenard understands he broke policy by not declaring his reduced income sooner, but he hopes management realizes the issue and make changes. He noted the elderly are particularly vulnerable to such agreements because they don’t often realize all the legalities involved.
An email to larongeNOW from Housing Network Executive Director Dianne Baird said tenants are encouraged to work with the local housing authority in the event of changes to a tenant’s rent because of changes to their income. She stated there are a number of options available, including an appeals process, that can support them in coming to a resolution.
“It's important tenants submit their annual income information in a timely matter,” the email stated. “Housing authorities provide letters to tenants prior to their anniversary date reminding them of their lease obligation to provide this information.”
Baird was unable to speak about Chenard’s case specifically, but she stated providing annual income information is part of his lease agreement.
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