A Sidney woman is thankful that somebody paid her back rent and promises to pay it back provided she can find out the identity of her benefactor, who remains unknown, and if the benefactor is not a multi-millionaire.
Zora Hlevnjak avoided eviction on Jan. 21 from her subsidized housing apartment in Sidney after Beacon Community Services had received payment for the back rent that Hlevnjak owed. “As well, we’re satisfied arrangements have now been made for payment of future rent in accordance with BC Housing rules with some private support, provided in a manner that is consistent with BC Housing regulations,” said Kerry Readshaw, communications director with Beacon Community Services.
She neither disclosed the amount paid nor the identity of Hlevnjak’s benefactor.
Not surprisingly, Hlevnjak said she feels “good” about the resolution of the issue. “Yesterday, they would have thrown me out,” she said.
Hlevnjak faced eviction from subsidized housing after failing to pay three month’s worth of back rent following a rent increase of more than $300 per month. In early January, she owed $1,087.
Her rent rose under the terms of subsidized housing that require tenants to pay 30 per cent of their income towards rent following submission of financial information.
“We didn’t raise the rent,” said Tim O’Brien, who manages Wakefield Manor where Hlevnjak has been staying since 2004, earlier. “She just started to report her proper income.”
Hlevnjak supplements her pension by returning empty cans and receiving donations from individuals, but does not consider these sources of ‘income’ in arguing that Beacon Community Services is not deserving of that money.
Hlevnjak said she does not know the identity of her benefactor, but happily accepts the support if it came from a multi-millionaire. “From those, I think would easily accept [the money], but from hard-working people, I am sorry for them, and feel obligated to pay them back,” she said. “I feel guilty using them.”
This said, Hlevnjak insists that money she collects through cans and donation should remain off-limits.
“I like to fight to the end, with [BC Housing] and Beacon [Community Services],” she said. “They are peeling my skin off like from rabbit or having my neck in the yoke like slave people had,” she said. ‘They want to take money from me which they didn’t deserve. Let them go. Let the government go through garbage and make that money, then they will know what I go through.”
By way of background, Hlevnjak’s rent will undergo a review in the fall, with the proviso that relevant agencies will likely be aware of her various sources of income in light of the publicity that her story has generated after she had approached media. Hlevnjak acknowledged that aspect.
Her story has also generated comments from readers questioning her honesty, after she revealed that she had been sending money for decades to extended relatives in Croatia in claiming that they are poor. Hlevnjak has promised to continue that practice.
The Peninsula News Review has reached out to several individuals to ask them about any financial contributions which might have made towards Hlevnjak’s cause.
Two individuals — Dave Lloyd, owner of Victoria Drain Services based in Saanich, and Breanne Brown, a former North Saanich resident now living in Australia — had previously told the Peninsula News Review that they would be prepared to pay the woman’s outstanding rent.
The Peninsula News Review also contacted Keith Funk, a Kelowna-based developer, with whom Hlevnjak has had contact in the past.
The Peninsula News Review will update this story, when and if comments become available.
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