Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Social assistance recipient in cold apartment for days

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Cold enough for ya? Don't even ask Cory Ciunyk.

On Saturday, when the wind chill was -26, the North End renter had been without heat for four days.

The tenant called the owner and the city Wednesday when the furnace went on the fritz.

While waiting for someone to fix it, the Pritchard Avenue resident used the stove and a space heater his mom gave him to heat the tiny suite he rents in a rundown house. When the stove quit working, he'd had enough. He's worried the water pipes will freeze and then there will be an even bigger problem.

He decided to go public Saturday in the hope that someone will do something.

Ciunyk, 41, is on disability assistance after smoke inhalation from a 2002 house fire damaged his lungs. He receives a shelter allowance of $285 and the monthly rent for his two-room suite is $353.

"Where am I supposed to move?" he asked, wheezing as he padded around his cramped home in slippers and multiple layers of clothing.

"I'm sleeping in a coat with blankets and a hood pulled over my head."

The house has four suites but just one other is occupied now, he said. Social assistance pays his rent directly to the landlord, he said.

Ciunyk said he checked the furnace himself and the pilot light won't stay lit. For days, he has been texting and phoning his landlord, who was out of town. He also repeatedly called the backup number the landlord left in case he wasn't available.

"I couldn't get hold of either one."

On Wednesday, Ciunyk called the City of Winnipeg's 311 number.

A bylaw enforcement officer came and checked the place out and issued an order for the furnace to be fixed, he said. Nothing has been done since then.

Ciunyk has had two landlords and three property managers at the place he's lived in for just over a year. The landlord he has now is a man in his 20s who owns a plumbing and heating business, he said. The landlord did not respond to a request for comment.

"He seems like a nice guy," said his tenant.

It's not a nice place, though, Ciunyk acknowledged. Since moving in, he's complained about bedbugs and mice, he said. The cold is too much, though, he said.

"I can't deal with this."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2012 A3

History

Updated on Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 10:28 AM CST: Corrects reference to wind chill

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