Iris Canada hospitalized: Sheriff’s notice to vacate sends 100-year-old to ICU; eviction of elders = death

San Francisco – Iris Canada, who just turned 100, was hospitalized early yesterday morning, just a day before the sheriff was set to evict her from the Page Street flat that she has called home for over half a century. She is in guarded condition.

Iris Canada, the 100-year-old hero who has been fighting unjust eviction – she has a life tenancy and has met her responsibilities – is resting in the Intensive Care Unit after becoming violently sick upon seeing the eviction notice saying she would be forced to move today. – Photo: Poor News Network
Iris Canada, the 100-year-old hero who has been fighting unjust eviction – she has a life tenancy and has met her responsibilities – is resting in the Intensive Care Unit after becoming violently sick upon seeing the eviction notice saying she would be forced to move today. – Photo: Poor News Network

Ms. Canada, who made national headlines earlier this year with her fight to keep her home, was rushed to the hospital after seeing the sheriff’s notice warning her that she would be locked out of her place on Wednesday, Sept. 14. She became extremely upset, called Peter Owens, one of the owners of her building, and left him a voice mail begging him not to evict her. Then her heart rate accelerated and she was rushed to the emergency room.

For many months, Poor News Network, Senior and Disability Action, Housing Rights Committee and concerned community folk have staged rallies in front of Iris’s home and at the courthouse on McAllister to show their support. The sheriff was supposed to carry out the eviction on Wednesday, but Iris’s advocates reached out to London Breed’s office.

She has been in dialogue with Sheriff Hennessy, who will give Iris more time; however, we don’t know how much time. Iris’ lawyer was able to get a week’s stay. Supervisor Breed says she will continue to put pressure on the sheriff, that she is fighting for Iris Canada as she would for the grandmother who raised her.

Iris Merriouns, Ms. Canada’s niece, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that learning she would have to leave her home triggered this attack. My aunt needs to be left alone to live out the rest of her life in her home. That’s all she wants.”

“As we have seen before, eviction is a health issue,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee, an organizer who has been helping Ms. Canada fight her eviction. “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.”

Iris Merriouns, Ms. Canada’s niece, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that learning she would have to leave her home triggered this attack. My aunt needs to be left alone to live out the rest of her life in her home. That’s all she wants.”

Tony Robles of Senior and Disability Action, another organizer who has been working to keep Ms. Canada in her home, agreed. “Marie Hatch, a 97-year-old in Burlingame, recently died during her eviction, and years ago, Lola McKay died while being evicted in the Mission. When will people realize that evictions are a serious threat to our health, especially for seniors?”

“As we have seen before, eviction is a health issue,” said Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee. “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.”

Please act for Iris

We are asking people to send emails urging that Iris be allowed to stay in her home. Write to Peter Owens, owensradisch@gmail.com and theothersideofthesfstory@gmail.com.

Our message is simple:

Iris Canada does not want to leave her home. Her physical reaction to the sheriff’s notice about the scheduled eviction shows that leaving her home will negatively impact her health. She should not be put through the stress of an actual eviction by the sheriff. It could kill her.

Please maintain a non-inflammatory tone in your email, as we do not want to open ourselves up to a harassment complaint.

This story is a composite of reports from Tiny of Poor News Network, at deeandtiny@poormagazine.org, Tony Robles of Senior and Disability Action, at tony@sdaction, Tommi Avacolli Mecca of Housing Rights Committee, at tmecca@hrcsf.org and Supervisor London Breed at Breedstaff@sfgov.org.