SAN FRANCISCO—A 100-year-old San Francisco woman was hospitalized Tuesday, September 13, just a day before sheriff’s deputies were slated to evict her from the home she’s owned for half a century.
Iris Canada has occupied her apartment at 670 Page St. since the 1950s and now is amid a lengthy legal battle that dates back to 2005, when homeowners Peter Owens, Stephen Owens and Carolyne Radishe served all tenants in the six-unit building with Ellis Act evictions; a California state law that allows landlords the right to evict tenants in order to “go out of business.”
With the assistance of an attorney, Canada won a settlement which granted her a lifetime stay in her apartment for $700 a month.
The building’s landlords moved to terminate Canada’s lifetime estate in 2014, alleging that she had been living with family members since 2012 and allowed the unit to fall into disrepair, claiming the utilities were shut off and that the apartment had become uninhabitable.
In April 2016, the court found in the landlords’ favor – ruling that Canada could stay in the apartment on the condition she accepted stricter limits on her occupancy and paid the property owner’s attorney fees, which accumulated to a total of more than $150,000.
The building’s landlord’s presented Canada with an alternate proposition, according to Mark Chernev, the property owners’ attorney. They offered to drop legal fees and reinstate Canada’s lifetime estate if she signed paperwork that would allow the building to be converted into condominiums, but she refused and pressed the owners to sell her the unit at a discounted price.
Last month, a San Francisco Superior Court judge granted the landlords the right to evict her upon discovering she had failed to pay the court-ordered attorney fees.
Upon seeing the sheriff’s eviction notice on Tuesday, Canada grew upset and left a voicemail for one of the building’s owners—Peter Owens—begging him to appeal the eviction. Later that day, she fell ill and was taken to the emergency room, according to the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco.
“There is no doubt in my mind that learning she would have to leave her home triggered the attack,” said Iris Merriouns, Canada’s niece, in a statement. “You can’t uproot someone from a home they’ve had for decades and not expect that it will negatively impact their health. This eviction must be stopped.”
Dennis Zaragoza, Canada’s attorney, said she was granted a one-week stay later that same day. He is seeking an extension to her stay pending the outcome of an appeal he has filed of a judge’s ruling ordering Canada to pay the attorney fees.
Canada remained hospitalized Wednesday, according to the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco.