Pat Reddy likes a good yarn like anybody else, but now the 69-year-old is at the centre of a story she’s taking public.
Reddy says her $161-a-month rent subsidy is on the line, unless she signs a letter stating she won’t sell her knitting again.
“I’m really confused. To me it sounds petty and spiteful.”
“It feels like a violation of my rights being told that you can’t knit or sell your knitting,” Reddy said.
Every year, Capital Region Housing requires its thousands of clients to fill out an income verification form. Reddy sent hers in, but tells Global News she later sold her hand-knitted mittens and shawls at two community craft fairs. She told her case worker she made about $500 in sales; money she says will help pay for her medical expenses.
Reddy was told to write a letter, stating her knitting sales were a one-time thing.
“Immediately I said, ‘okay.’ Then I was angry and said, ‘it’s not okay.’”
In a Final Notice letter dated Dec. 22, Capital Region Housing told her submit that letter. If not, as of February, her rent subsidy would be cancelled.
CRH Chief Executive Officer Greg Dewling said Reddy’s case is a misunderstanding, and said they do not tell tenants they cannot earn other income.
“We always encourage honesty and encourage our tenants to make some money on the side,” Dewling said.
“Money on the side typically does not impact their ongoing subsidy.”
The CRH says temporary or occasional sales from knitting or anything else are not counted as income, nor applied towards the subsidy amount.
Reddy feels the letter is an ultimatum; one she won’t give-in to.
“Has this happened to other seniors who won’t speak back?”
“I think that’s a fair response by Ms. Reddy,” Dewling said.
“I would certainly feel threatened as well.”
Dewling said Reddy will not lose her rent subsidy and is confident they can resolve the issue before the end of the month.
Reddy, who’s been knitting since the age of four, has a pile of patterns on the go. She vows to continue knitting for her grandkids and the homeless, and hopefully sell a few items on the side.
“I’d go insane,” said Reddy, when asked what would happen if she stopped knitting. “It’s something I get great pleasure from.”