Iris Canada won a court battle on April 27 of this year to stay in her home at 670 Page Street in San Francisco, a house she has lived in for over half a decade and was nearly evicted from.
But the battle continues and now Canada, who is 99 years old, is facing yet another eviction threat.
This time, Canada is being asked to pay legal fees amounting to $164,000.
If Canada does not pay the amount by July 8, TIC co-owners Peter Owens, Carolyn Radische and Steven Owens could get an order to evict her.
In response, activists and community members are rallying in support for Canada, who is a retired nurse.
On June 27, 28 and 29, members of Faith in Action, Senior and Disability Action (SDA), Housing Rights Committee and Causa Justa: Just Cause held vigils in front of her house to pressure Owens and the other owners to drop the legal fees so that she is not evicted.
“We are asking the TIC owners to stand in solidarity with Iris and her right to stay in her apartment,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca, director of counseling programs at Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. “We are simply asking them to do the right thing. You do not evict a 99-year-old woman.”
“We are here as people of faith,” said Bishop Alfred Johnson of Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, where Canada is a congregation member. “Our congregation has been praying for her. It feels like moral abuse.”
Owens, who until recently was the director of housing policies in Burlington, Vermont, has said he is willing to waive those fees under the condition that Canada sign paperwork that would convert the joint ownership apartments to condos.
However, Canada and her attorney Dennis Zaragoza are hesitant. At Tuesday’s vigil, Zaragoza said he has asked for the settlement offer from the TIC co-owners but has yet to see anything on paper.
“[Canada] wants to make sure she isn’t waiving any rights in signing whatever they want her to sign,” Zaragoza said. “I have to be able to advise my client based on what is the real intent of the parties, and I can’t know that until I see it in writing. I don’t know what some of these promises mean until I see it in writing.”
Zaragoza said the co-owners are not legally obligated to show any settlement forms or outlines at this time, but that without them it is difficult to assume any promises are whole-hearted.
In the meantime, supporters and family members continue to fight with Canada so she can live out her life in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood.
“She’s been here for as long as I can remember, and now I’m almost 30 years old,” said Canada’s great, great niece Ashley Merriouns, who attended Tuesday’s vigil with her young son. “Many generations have been here in this home. She has pictures of everyone in here from the time we were all born.”
Canada will turn 100 on July 13. Johnson says there will be a birthday celebration at their church in her honor.