Knitting socks, toques jeopardizing housing subsidy, senior says

An Edmonton senior has been told to stop selling her knitting or she may be forced to move.

Pat Reddy says she will move before she puts down her knitting needles

Knit goods may end up costing senior subsidized housing

8 years ago
Duration 1:33
Edmonton senior Pat Reddy says that her subsidized housing may be in jeopardy after she sold too many yarns at a pair of craft sales.

An Edmonton senior has been told to stop selling her knitting, or risk losing hundreds of dollars a year in low-income housing subsidies.

"I feel like I'm living in Russia, under that kind of oppression," Pat Reddy said during a Thursday morning interview on Edmonton AM. "I don't think anyone should have the right to say, 'You have to stop or you're homeless'."

The 69 year old has been told by the Capital Region Housing Corp. (CRHC) that her $161 monthly housing subsidy is in jeopardy if she continues to profit from her hobby.

"I was traumatized when I got the call," said Reddy. "I cried my eyes out." 

After 24 years in the same Strathearn apartment, Pat Reddy will be moving out so she can continue selling her knitting at local craft fairs, and keep her housing subsidy. (Sam Martin/CBC Edmonton )

Without the financial support, Reddy cannot afford the $509 monthly rent at the Strathearn apartment she's called home for the last 24 years.

But she won't be putting down her needles anytime soon. She's decided to move out of her apartment and into seniors housing, where she can sell as much knitting as she likes.

"I'm going to move and I'm going to keep knitting."

The CRHC took issue with the $500 worth of socks, toques and lace shawls Reddy sold last year at the Strathearn Art Walk and Ukrainian Christmas Craft Sale.

Reddy was under the impression that her subsidy would shrink if her income grew.  Instead, the CRHC offered her two options: sign an official letter, promising she would never sell her knitting again, or lose her entire subsidy for the year.

"What concerns me is how many seniors that they have done this to. When you sign a subsidy, they should give the rules and regulations up front. I don't think they should be able to write letters like that."

Reddy has begun packing up her belongings, preparing for a move into seniors housing where she can sell as much knitting as she likes. (Sam Martin/CBC)
CRHC CEO Greg Dewling confirmed that Reddy's rental subsidy was put on hold for the month of January, but denies that Reddy was ever asked to stop selling her handicrafts.

"That is not correct," said Dewling who suggested it's all a misunderstanding. "She's actually not in danger of losing her subsidy."

According to Dewling, the agency called Reddy to confirm her "income sources," paperwork which must be submitted annually before any housing support can be awarded.

Dewling said Reddy only needs to confirm — in writing — that knitting is not her regular income for her subsidy to be reinstated.

"To date, we have not received any correspondence from her," Dewling said.

Reddy has filed complaints with the Alberta Seniors Department, and the Human Rights Commission and said she will be asking the ombudsman's office to investigate.

"I want to make it better for all seniors, for them to have a voice, and not be bullied by the system," said Reddy. "I've always been kind of a rebel."