From today's rally in solidarity for Iris Canada. 99 years strong. Eviction = Death. Let our seniors live in peace. pic.twitter.com/iro45ajyQf— Tina Cheung (@tinacheung) April 13, 2016
After a court hearing to consider her eviction from the Western Addition flat she's occupied since the 1940s, 99-year-old Iris Canada led reporters from the Chronicle and elsewhere up to her Page Street apartment.
Canada insists she has kept the place up, which lawyers for the unit's owners argued she has not, violating the terms that allow her to continue to live there for the rest of her life at the price of $700 a month.
That agreement was reached, according to the Examiner, during a remediation in 2002 after the owners attempted to evict her under the Ellis Act. Canada, 85 at the time, lawyered up and fought back.
Inside her living room, decorated with a Chinese lantern, slot machine, and cuckoo clock, Canada intended to prove that she had indeed maintained the apartment (which it appears she has).
The nonagenarian was granted a reprieve in Superior Court yesterday when her eviction proceedings were put on hold, for a week. "I feel happy," said Canada, reportedly gripping her walker. She's lived to fight another day.
Housing Rights Committee counselor Gus Brown, who counts himself a friend of Canada, says that Canada has paid $79,000 over many years to the owners of the unit. “They thought in 2005 that, in two or three years, she’d be dead,” said Brown. “That’s what this is really about.”
Lawyers against Canada argued that the 99-year-old, who is a widow, has “failed to permanently reside at the premises,” violating the 2005 agreement. In fact, they claim Canada moved out for more than two years, staying with family members in Oakland.
As 48 Hills points out, Canada doesn't dispute she's left, at times, treating health issues and caring for others in her family.
When Canada moved to the city, she was a nurse; her husband was a merchant marine sailor. Where she lives, at 670 Page between Steiner and Fillmore, once put her in the heart of a Black neighborhood. She's now the only black person in her building.
Peter Owens, Carolyn Radisch, and Steven Owens, a married couple who now live on the East Coast and the husband's brother, bought the apartment as a tenancy in common in 2002. It was, apparently, an investment for them. Now they seem to wish to convert the building to condos.
Next week, Canada will be back at a hearing. “I love living in San Francisco,” she told the Chronicle. “San Francisco is my home, and my home is my home. I don’t want to go anyplace.”
Canada's case follows on the similar, sad tale of 97-year-old Marie Hatch, who also had a liftetime lease on her home in Burlingame, and who died last month in the midst of an eviction battle of her own.