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Tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 11, in Room 400 of City Hall, the SF Planning Commission will be voting on whether to approve an application for the condo conversion of the Fillmore District apartment building from which Iris Canada, a 100-year-old African American woman, was evicted last February. Ms. Canada died in the hospital in March, shortly after that eviction. The item is No. 16 on the agenda. The commission meeting begins at 1 p.m.
John Brown, a 68-year-old Vietnam vet and former firefighter, is happy in his one-bedroom unit in Bayview; it’s small but comfortable, clean and tidy. He’s at risk of losing his home. It’s an odd situation: Brown has no problem paying the rent, he’s not violating his lease, he gets along fine with his landlord, there’s no Ellis Act or Owner Move-in taking place. The building hasn’t been sold. He’s facing eviction because his apartment was built illegally – and now the city is cracking down. The tenants are appealing the demolitions to the Planning Commission, which will hear the case Thursday, July 27.
On Thursday, July 27, the Planning Commission will be deciding whether or not the formerly homeless, low-income vets in 15 units in the Bayview will get to stay or be forced out to face an uncertain future. Housing Rights Committee, a local tenants’ rights organization that has been working with the tenants, is calling on the commission to reject the permits to demolish these units, which are rent controlled.
“I was born in 1916,” Iris whispered into the camera in her last hours of life. “Peter, I can’t believe you did me like this.” Her eyes were pools of sacred time. Sacred, like a prayer. Sacred like things you hold lightly to protect and dream about and kneel to. Not evict and harass and drag to court and intrude and disrespect and eventually kill. Iris Canada joined the ancestors on Monday, March 27, one month after being evicted. Iris was murdered by the people and the systems that rule this stolen land. Iris was killed by landlord Peter Owens, the sheriff, the DA, the mayor, the judge and everyone who protects them.
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.
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. 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. We are asking people to send emails urging that Iris be allowed to stay in her home.
In the midst of San Francisco’s affordability crisis, where evictions of tenants in rent controlled housing units have skyrocketed, Supervisor David Campos, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and tenant advocates are asking the City of San Francisco to fund enough attorneys to provide a right to counsel for any tenant facing an unlawful detainer eviction.
Damian is clear that people should feel their home is a safe, healthy place. If parents’ and their children’s health is compromised or damaged, they should not be retaliated against for going to management and asking them to fix unsafe conditions. “Do not let fear keep you trapped where you’re not happy and not getting your issues addressed,” advised Damian. “You have your children to keep in mind.”
Like all residents on Treasure Island, a man-made landform drenched in water, heat and humidity, wherever Damian Ochoa moves in John Stewart's market rate “Villages,” mold spores float stealthily in the air behind him. Three years ago these spores “mushroomed” into spotty patches in his immaculate home. But Damian is winning. He shows ways that renters can get what they want from a realtor or manager.
Reporting and supporting as a revolutionary poverty journalist, I have done multiple stories on the increasing criminalization suffered by houseless peoples in the U.S. As a daughter raised in a houseless family, I was personally cited, arrested and eventually incarcerated for the act of being houseless and living in the car with my mama.