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Landlord moves all of 100-year-old Iris Canada’s household belongings from her home without notice while she’s in hospital

February 23, 2017

by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Housing Rights Committee

With no notice, the landlord who evicted 100-year-old Iris Canada on Feb. 10, ordered movers on Feb. 21 to empty her apartment, her home for decades, as activists, notified on social media, rushed to the scene to stop them. They succeeded momentarily – this photo was taken about 8 p.m. – but by the next day, everything was gone. Iris’ niece was able to save only a wheelchair and a few documents. – Photo: San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition

San Francisco – Peter Owens, one of three landlords of Iris Canada, the 100-year-old African American woman evicted from her apartment in the Fillmore area by Sheriff Vicki Hennessy on Feb. 10, has removed Ms. Canada’s possessions from the home she’s lived in since 1965 without notice and while she was in the hospital.

Ms. Canada’s niece, Iris Merriouns, her main caretaker, says that Owens’ attorneys have denied her access to the elder woman’s possessions.

Owens hired two U-Hauls to take all of her things, including family photos, furniture, ID cards, check books, necessary medical supplies and documents, her deceased husband’s paintings, memorabilia and clothing, to an unknown storage unit. Tenant activists arrived Tuesday night while the trucks were being loaded and called the police, objecting to Ms. Canada’s things being removed without any notification to her family.

“Last night, in view of the police, housing activists and media, the movers stopped loading any more items on the trucks,” said Deepa Varma of the San Francisco Tenants Union on Tuesday night. “But no doubt they went back today (Wednesday) and completed the job.

Iris Canada, 100, tries to recover in the hospital from the shock of learning she has no home now that she’s been evicted from the place she loved and lived in for over 50 years. This is her third hospitalization since the eviction battle began two years ago.

“Who does this to a 100-year-old? Who takes away all of the things she’s accumulated over the years and doesn’t tell her family where they are and when they can retrieve them? This is heartless.”

“Iris may be released from the hospital as soon as they can stabilize her heart rate,” said her lawyer, Dennis Zaragoza. “She currently has no home to return to, no access to her belongings, and her home-health providers are currently scheduled to provide service only to the home she just lost.

“The landlord is holding the documents necessary to change or restart medical services, and the attorneys for the Peter Owens Group have failed to provide a statement of the moving costs and storage in order for the family to raise the money and retrieve them. How is my client supposed to get the care she needs in this situation?”

Peter Owens and his lawyer, Andrew Zacks, denied the family reasonable access to gather Ms. Canada’s belongings. When Zacks showed up to Iris Canada’s house Tuesday night, he refused to let her niece inside to get medical documents and supplies, even with a police escort.

Ms. Canada’s supporters and family are hoping that Owens and Zacks don’t destroy Ms. Canada’s personal belongings, as they don’t think she could endure such news in the face of her current health condition and losing her long-time home.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, writer, singer-songwriter, performance artist, former Harvey Milk Club president and director of counseling programs at the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, can be reached at

6 thoughts on “Landlord moves all of 100-year-old Iris Canada’s household belongings from her home without notice while she’s in hospital

  1. Rpgbron

    This article is total BS and everyone knows it. Legally,the owners could have invoked the Ellis Act and legally evicted her when they bought the building when they bought it 15 years ago! Instead,they attempted to "do the right thing" by granting Mrs. Canada a "life estate",to enable her to live there for the rest of her life,at the incredibly low price of $700 per month,on the condition she consent to allowing the rest of the rest of the building to be converted to converted to condominiums.

    But that wasn't good enough for her greedy niece, who somehow imagines that she is entitled to inherit the apartment her aunt has been renting! Which is now worth over 1/2 million dollars–which is what the niece is really after.

    This is a story of abusing the court system, and public sympathy for an elderly, black woman, as a coverup for the neice's money making scam!

  2. bestessay

    It sure is bad to something like this with a person that has already been in the hospital for so long. I think that there is supposed to be some serious notice taken for this type of act.

  3. CameronRobertson

    That is not just a sad situation but definitely a trully appalling one! It takes a seriously inhumane nature of a person to have the heart to do such a terrible thing to a sick elderly. The least the landlord could do is to inform her of the storage unit location and the costs incurred.

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