Neil Woledge says he needs to keep working to keep himself busy.
Last summer, he asked a friend to give him a part-time job.
“He appreciated the fact that I’m 70 years old and wanted to help me out,” Woledge says.
But he didn’t anticipate what happened next.
“The first day that I went to work, I came back and in the door was a bill for $1,625.”
Woledge had been paying $80 a month to Yellowknife Public Housing for a bachelor apartment at Mary Murphy Seniors home in Yellowknife.
Seniors’ rent used to be free in the city, but changes to the rent scale in 2012 mean even seniors' rents are now adjusted based on income.
Woledge thought the issue was rectified last summer, when he appealed the rent hike and saw the decision reversed.
But now the Yellowknife Housing Authority has slapped him with a bill for $9,000 and an eviction notice. They say he’s months behind on his rent and hasn’t reported on his income.
Woledge says he’s tried to show how much he was making to get the rent decreased.
The housing authority agreed to do that for his first month of work, but Woledge says he doesn't understand why the rent went back up.
"I haven't been avoiding,” he says. “I just have been not satisfying them with the paperwork."
Under the housing corporation's rent scale, the maximum someone in Yellowknife can pay for public housing is $1625 a month. That happens if a person is grossing more than $8334 a month, regardless of the size of their unit.
Woledge says he was never making that much and is preparing to argue his case at an eviction hearing next week.
'I get pain from the work, but pain is good because if you’re feeling pain, you’re still alive!' - Neil Woledge
"To have them take the lion's share like that, they're taking half of my actual income is what they're claiming on here."
Woledge also wonders why his rent he’s being asked to pay is so high.
His bachelor unit is about five metres square — just large enough for a single bed, table and small kitchen and bathroom.
“You can get equal or more room for $500 in town if you look around,” he says. “In a comfortable home, you can get a full bedroom of your own plus the use of a kitchen, washroom, living room.”
‘I feel so much more healthy’
Most of all, Woledge wants to keep on working, at least a little bit.
“I get pain from the work, but pain is good because if you’re feeling pain, you’re still alive!” says the former heavy duty mechanic.
“I feel so much more healthy. I lost some weight, I’m getting around better,” he says.
“I don’t want to fall back into that rut. It’s a long winter in this country and with the cold weather it’s easy to sit here and eat, watch TV, read, eat, watch TV… and pretty soon you’re dead because you’re carrying around too much weight and you’re not active.”