Elder abuse in San Francisco: Owner goes to court to evict 100-year-old Iris Canada

Come to the courthouse at 400 McAllister at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 10, to applaud Iris Canada as she arrives and wish her luck

by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Iris Canada, now 100 years old, sits in the comfortable living room of her home of 50 years. How could anyone put her out on the street when she has done her part to be entitled to stay there for the rest of her days? – Photo: Wayne Freedman, Twitter
Iris Canada, now 100 years old, sits in the comfortable living room of her home of 50 years. How could anyone put her out on the street when she has done her part to be entitled to stay there for the rest of her days? – Photo: Wayne Freedman, Twitter

San Francisco — Peter Owens, Carolyn Radische and Stephen Owens plan to press forward with their eviction of Iris Canada, the 99-year-old African American woman in the Fillmore who just turned 100, by asking Superior Court at 400 McAllister on Wednesday, Aug. 10, to grant them an order to throw her out of her home of over 50 years.

The elderly woman has been fighting an eviction since early March. Though the court granted her a relief from forfeiture, allowing her to stay despite the eviction, it also granted the owner’s legal and other fees of $164,000. Ms. Canada’s attorney, Dennis Zaragoza, has filed an appeal because he believes the court had no right to impose the fees.

Owners have stated that they would drop the fees if Ms. Canada signed a condo conversion agreement for her building, but they refuse to give her first right of refusal to buy the unit, which Zaragoza believes she has under the city’s condo conversion law.

“Is the court really going to allow a 100-year-old woman to be evicted because the owners want to make lots of money on her unit?” asked Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee. “Has it really come to that – in San Francisco, of all places?”

“This feels like elder abuse,” said Tony Robles of Senior and Disability Action. “We should be taking care of our elders, not evicting them so that owners can turn a profit.”

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, writer, singer-songwriter, performance artist and director of counseling programs at the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, is best known as a radical queer activist who helped organize the first gay pride march in Philadelphia in 1972, organized shelters for homeless queer youth in the Castro in the late 90s, headed the politically influential Harvey Milk Club in the 2000s and now writes regularly for several online media. He can be reached at tommi@avicollimecca.com.