Community Housing rents going up, tenant upset
Municipal Property Assessment Corp. raises assessments, triggering tax increases and rental hikes
Peter Litwin wasn't pleased when he received a notice in the mail from the Windsor-Essex Housing Corporation telling him his rent was increasing five per cent a month, but he was shocked to read that it could go up again after that.
"We have a bit of income but not enough to pay what they are asking," Litwin said, sitting in his one-bedroom apartment on Oak Street. "We have to be even more careful and we are careful at the moment — you can see we aren't living in the lap of luxury."
Litwin and his wife have lived in Cherniak Manor, a building run by the Windsor-Essex Housing Corporation, for the past 10 years. Their rent this month has increased by $29, but he is worried what his rent will look like in four years.
"We expect that similar rent increases could occur in the future," reads the letter he received in December.
Litwin says the majority of people living in his building are seniors who are on a fixed income who will not be able to afford housing.
"[CHC] got to have a heart.… They got to look at some of these people in this building and say 'look they can't afford it.'"
Upgrades and tax assessment to blame for rent increase
The letter Litwin received indicated that all buildings owned and operated by the Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation are facing "a significant valuation increase" to their assessed value. That means CHC's taxes are going up.
"Our tax increase will be phased in over the next four (4) years," reads the letter.
Kari Schofield, public affairs manager for CHC, said they have to increase rent at Cherniak Manor to pay for the tax increase. But she also said the older buildings need to be upgraded.
"We have determined there are quite a few investments we need to undertake over the next couple years in order to maintain the life cycle and the safety of those buildings," Schofield said.
As for the increase in rent over the few years, Schofield says it could happen.
"The reason we are suggesting that is as things move and as things change we don't want to make a promise that there won't be further rent increase,s but we also don't want to create shock and alarm for people."
"What we can assure people is we do provide under market rent, that is what we do, we will always be below market rent," she said.
Schofield also says she understands it could be difficult for seniors to find that extra money but "individuals are also in a position to choose other landlords."
That's a concept Litwin and his wife have explored at length. The couple has spent hours looking for another place to live but because of wait lists and higher rental costs elsewhere, they say they're stuck paying the increase.
"We will make it through but the one next door won't or the guy down the hall won't," said Litwin. "They won't, and it's sad."