Iris Canada dies a month after her eviction

At 100 years old, she did not survive long after the loss of the place she called home for 60 years

Iris Canada, a centenarian who was evicted from her apartment at 670 Page St. last month, has died. Canada was hospitalized shortly after the eviction and couldn’t recover from a stroke she suffered over the weekend.

Iris Canada has died shortly after being evicted
Iris Canada has died shortly after being evicted

Canada was a resident of Page St. since the 1940s (accounts vary) and secured a life-time lease at $700 a month in 2005 after the building was bought by Peter Owens, Stephen Owens and Carolyn Radisch.
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The Owens want to convert the six-story tenancy-in-common to condominiums, which requires consent from all building residents. Canada, through her attorney, refused to sign conversion papers arguing that it would result in Canada losing her life-time lease. The disagreement sparked an ugly legal battle mobilizing housing rights activists in San Francisco.

Owens argued that Canada no longer lived at her apartment and that it was in shoddy condition. Canada spent a lot of time with her niece or at the hospital, and the Owens family argued that meant Page Street was not her primary residence. Canada’s niece insisted that she be given an opportunity to buy the property, an offer the Owens felt was implausible. Canada’s attorney also didn’t accept reassurances from the Owens that they’d be willing to let her have a fulltime caretaker or meet other times if she came on board with the condominium conversion.

The court ruled in favor of Owens. 

Canada’s story highlights the complexities of the housing crisis plaguing San Francisco. Housing activists argued that Canada not be evicted from her residence at her age while opponents argued she wasn’t living at her residence in the first place.

Canada appeared in a wheel chair at a few press conferences but mostly stayed at home or in the hospital owing to her age and ill health. Family and activists warned about the toll the legal battle was taking on her. Despite court orders, Sheriff Vicki Hennessy at first decided to hold off formalizing the eviction given Canada’s health — but on February 10th locks to her apartment were changed. 

 While accusations hurled from either side, Canada’s health deteriorated and fears of housing activists came true over the weekend: “This is what we said, this what we kept saying again and again but no one listened. We said she will die if she’s evicted that she won’t be able to overcome this shock. We’ve seen it time and time again,” Tommi Aviolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee told 48 Hills.

Mecca has been on the forefront of Canada’s fight: “We are San Francisco we are suppose to be compassionate and humane but this is what we did to a senior in our city. She could have been my own grandmother.” 

Housing rights activists and community members have organized a vigil to remember Canada at her former residence 670 Page Street on Wednesday. Mecca says they want to give people a place to remember her: “We wanted to give people some time to grieve so we can all come together and remember her.”

 

  • Heart

    Rest in power Iris Canada. They can’t evict you from Heaven.

    • Heaven is as real as a “life-time lease”

      • rob g

        Wow, you took the time to write and publish that. The low-life internet troll epitomized. Sad!

        • I’m a low-life because i don’t believe in Heaven. How Republican of you.

          • rob g

            You also lack the intelligence to recognize context. You’re a low-life because you dickishly expressed your unsolicited opinion to someone who expressed well wishes to the departed.

            Love, a liberal.

          • expressed expressed

          • Do Something Nice

            I too question the existence of heaven. What makes us different is that I don’t feel the need to shit on other’s feelings and shit on sympathetic responses to the death of a woman who had a tumultuous final year regarding her housing.

            Give it a rest.

          • You just come into a comment section telling others what to do. Can I ask you how is the air up there on the moral high road?

          • Cynthia

            Dude, seriously, Golden Gate … let. it. go. You said a dickish thing. It happens. Don’t make it worse by doubling down on it.

            You don’t always have to say whatever’s in your head.

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            He could be Trumpy incognito for all we know.

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            DITTO!

          • rob g

            Yes, the tit for tat you’re currently engaged in is THEIR fault. You are to blame for nothing. This could not be helped! FATE lead us all down this path! The great cosmos determined it! For they are as vast and mysterious as your cluelessness.

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            CLASSIC!

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            You presume too much sir…you don’t know if I’m a liberal or not, typical first thing call out names.

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            Isn’t that the truth. All their Jesus shit and yet they are ready to condemn. I’m sure there cross-hanger wouldn’t like that.

        • Le Marquise de Sade

          What’s sad is peeps like you who immediately resort to Trumping folks i.e. calling out stupid, immature, names. I’ll just bet you were a bully in school!

      • Ragazzu

        Maybe hold back your sociopathic comments for a death in the community?

        • I guess only sociopaths don’t believe in heaven.

          • rob g

            Nobody gives a fuck about what you believe or don’t believe you loud-mouthed atheist stereotype.

          • uh oh, swearing. typical loud-mouthed Republican stereotype

          • L J

            And nobody cares what you believe you so-called bible-thumper who calls people names. Bet you voted for Trumpy! S-Called POTUS.

          • MD B

            Just so anyone ELSE who reads your bullsh||t here will know – you’re a hypocrite .. among other things:

            Le Marquise de Sade jrapdx 19 hours ago
            If you think I sit at my pc all day waiting for comments dead wrong. Got better things to do than you Trumpets sitting with your finger up yours ass, jerking off and dying for the next reason to write something.

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            oooh He’s offended…Just the purpose when dealing with the Trumpets

          • Ragazzu

            You’ll go far with logic like that.

  • 4th Gen SF

    RIP Iris. You fought the good fight. So what happens to Iris’ apartment now?

  • Porfirio666

    Sad for her death. But any blame that Iris died because of the move should fall on her great-niece, Iris Merrioun.

    Courts have consistently ruled that the landlord was standing by the $700-for-life lease and would allow a full-time on-site caretaker to live in the apartment.

    Iris should not have meddled in this sound living arrangement and tried to get her hands on the property. She should stick with her traditional way of making a living—pressuring Oakland parking officials to destroy public records for her friends.

    • playland

      RIP Ms Canada but it is unlikely that you will meet your great-niece where you are going.

      So much of this article just doesn’t ring true. For example:

      Canada, through her attorney, refused to sign conversion papers arguing that it would result in Canada losing her life-time lease.

      How about a clause saying that both sides acknowledge Ms Canada’s lifetime estate and stipulate that the conversion agreement she is signing will affect it in no way.

      Canada’s attorney also didn’t accept reassurances from the Owens that they’d be willing to let her have a fulltime caretaker

      Yeah. So you get it in writing. Because that’s what lawyers do.

      I don’t doubt that Sana is writing what she was told by the parties involved, I’m just saying that it doesn’t seem to be true.

    • ImPerfect

      How much longer did they think she was going to live since Ms Canada was nearly 100. Couldn’t have waited . . . .

      How big was the apt ? Is there room for a live in caregiver(s) ? Does the caregiver(s) get to be on the lease ?

      Is the caregiver a paid caregiver or an unpaid friend or family caregiver ?

      If a caregiver doesn’t get to be on the lease, where does the caregiver live after Ms Canada died ? Does the unpaid caregiver pay rent on a place when it isn’t occupied ?

      What if the caregiver(s) have family (spouse, children, pet) ? Do they get to move in ?

      Could Ms Canada afford to hire a live in caregiver ?

  • boBisa

    Sad that she passed. I hope she rests in peace. However another part of me hopes that Ms Canada drops in every once in a while to haunt the sh*t out of those condos.

  • Jim Simmons

    Boy, what a horrible series of comments below. The lack of empathy for this woman’s last days on earth is astounding. What has my city become!

    • Geek__Girl

      Welcome to Ed Lee’s San Francisco, brought to you courtesy of Ron Conway.

      • Bill

        ed le, the head ‘coolie’ and idiot in charge of his board of ‘stupidvisors’, what a bunch of worthless clowns!

        • Cynthia

          Did you just call a Chinese man a “coolie”?

          • Bill

            Yes I did, great thing about living in America, you have the right to your opinion! And FYI, ed lee is an idiot and a disgrace to this city along with his board of ‘stupidvisors’ and how they’re running this once great city. No wonder, San Francisco has become the laughing stock of the USA, sad to say!

          • Cynthia

            I’m sorry, did you just conflate the First Amendment (which applies to government repression) with your right to believe that a racial slur is appropriate for a private entity’s discussion page?
            Oh, dear.

          • curiousKulak

            Yeah, Bill, I’m with Cyn and 4th on this. You need to cool it with slurs like “coolie”. That goes for the N-word, the S-word, the K-word, the G-word, the F-word. In other words, play nice.

            Opinions are or course one thing. Expressions however have to be tempered. Yelling the “C”-word in Chinatown may be akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater. Or not. But pretend like you’re actually talking to other human beings here. We’d all appreciate it.

            BTW, I’m probably disposed to be on your side. So don’t overreact to this.

          • Bill

            Yeah, I did, that’s what this liberal idiot is, so what about it!

          • Bill

            I could have said worse, but then I’d be blacklisted, so what about it!

        • 4th Gen SF

          I think the “coolie” thing needs to be removed Bill. Not nice.

          • Bill

            This is america, free speech, tough shit if you can’t handle the truth that the idiots in City hall Have let the quality of life in this once great city go to hell over the past few years.

          • Cynthia

            Bill, the difference between “opinion” and “fact” is usually covered in elementary school. Perhaps you should brush up.

            Also, as I’ve explained before, the First Amendment has zero bearing on what a private entity (say, Disqus) chooses to allow, or not allow, on its comment board.

    • Bill

      It’s become an overpriced, overrated dirty disgusting ‘liberal’ craphole, that’s what San Francisco’s become over the years with the bleeding heart liberal stooges in City Hall who do nothing to improve the lives of residents and somehow keep getting reelected every election year. This coming from a native and sorry to say I, like a lot of other folks are tired of all the nonsensical BULLS**T required to live here, just saying!

      • bear on the peaks

        it’s interesting how many sf natives comment on this site and also get disrespected on this site. london breed has sf’s interests more at heart than jane kim who blew-in from stanford versus east coast. once i commented on this site and someone told me to go back to the surburb i came from, saying i must have just moved here. soy de san francisco, la mission, corazone de la ciudad. this city has gone to hell and prople like david campos and jane kim and all the professional homeless advocates have helped ruin it. i especially dislike people who come here believing they have arrived on the barbary coast or the haight-ashbury circa 1968 and talk about san francisco values. the sf i remember growing up was very special, a unique place. i miss it. today’s sf “liberals” speaking for ” sf values” haven’t a clue what this city was really like.

        • Bill

          Look at the idiots running the city, ed lee and his band of stooges, AKA the board of stupidvisors. All of these bleeding heart liberals, especially old hags pelosi and feinstein really need to go, these worthless high living liberals have got the attitude ‘all for me and screw everyone else’. These worthless and ineffective clowns, the politicos running the city, seem to be on their own agendas and aren’t doing a damned thing to improve life for city residents and collecting big paychecks on our dime.. It seems ‘boat people’, bums and vagrants have got more rights than residents who work, pay taxes and live by the rules and more often than not, pay nosebleed prices to live here. This place has become a real craphole. Shame on the residents stupid enough who keep re-electing these worthless liberals who’ve done basically NADA, ZILCH, ZIPPO, SQUAT, NOTHING and basically BUPKUS!

          • El Kabong

            Seriously, your surprised that San Francisco elects Democrats. I get the impression you’d be happier in Texas or North Carolina.

          • Le Marquise de Sade

            Then move! Or run for office and make your desired changes.

        • Do Something Nice

          Yes, it was better when anti-gay cops beat the crap out of gay men, right?

          • bear on the peaks

            i never said in my original comment that everything was perfect in sf’s past, nor did i blame liberals for ‘everything.’ you don’t know me so how can you jusdge my ‘compassion’? i would love to have an intelligent discourse with you, but i see that is not possible. i stand by what i said in my original posting.

          • 4th Gen SF

            DSN is that guy who retired early, came because he’s gay to find utopia & has $ with his partner. They own a place in Spain. IDKY he doesn’t live there. He’s completely angry & rude to everyone.

        • 4th Gen SF

          The TRUTH. The carpetbaggers that come here disgust me, esp the ones that think they OWN SF.

      • Jim Simmons

        I will stand on my original statement. This has nothing to do with individual supervisors or the mayor, but an economic system built on greed and profit above all other considerations. We all need to step back and take a deeper look at what is important in life.

        • 4th Gen SF

          Better to live in Venezuela though? Capitalism is best.

          • Jim Simmons

            Thanks for that great analysis. I’m totally convinced – Capitalism is king!

          • 4th Gen SF

            You can always move to Venezuela. Or Cuba.

      • Le Marquise de Sade

        Then move! Oakland surely has a place for you.

  • chrisdarling

    If we really had a justice system and not a criminal law system, the Sheriff, Vicki Henessy, and the owners, Peter Owens, Stephen Owens and Carolyn Radisch, would be complicit in the murder of Iris Canada. Because had her lease been honored and Canada not hassled with months of lawsuits before being evicted, she would be alive today.

    • MKR

      I’m sorry but that is really hard to prove. At 100 she could have died anytime regardless of her lease on that apartment.

  • curiousKulak

    RIP, Ms Canada. From friend and foe alike.

  • Don Sebastopol

    If she had not been living there, how can the eviction have been the cause of death.

    • curiousKulak

      I know for myself that Change can be difficult – more so the older one gets. The lose of her identity (as a resident @ 670 Page) is a big change. Maybe moreso than “temporarily” moving in with niece-Iris or a hospital.

      But of course the biggest stressor of all had to be the lengthy bickering and fighting over this issue.

      People want to put it on “the eviction”, but thats not the complete picture. And of course, there’s the indisputable fact that she was 100!

      • Don Sebastopol

        For me it would be the hassle of getting rid of all my junk not the change. In my 75 years all of my relatives died or left the City. I don’t see any more or less of them. And they are glad they left. Most of my childhood friends have died or left the City. Most I know who moved had no problem adjusting and have it nicer in many ways. Where I live now all of my original neighbors have died or moved away. Most all of the stores in the neighborhood have gone out of business or changed hands. There has been nothing but change.

        My next move may be to one of those independent living senior facilities where I can get assisted living when that time comes. Most old folks would probably be better off there than isolated.

  • Jenny Zhao

    Canada was NOT a tenant, she was a Life-Estate Holder of the property at issue. She entered into a Written agreement that for $250,000, she purchased a life estate which was documented by a life-estate deed & promissory note. The conditions of the written agreement, as spelled out on the life-estate deed, required her to keep the property as her residence and to maintain the property in good order. She failed to meet ALL of her obligations : her payment was defaulted with a balance of $170,000, she failed to live at the property and left the property in despair condition. As a result, the property owner brought a lawsuit to enforce the written agreement which resulted in revocation of the life-estate agreement.
    All the court files are public records to verify!

  • Jenny Zhao

    Canada was NOT a tenant, she was a Life-Estate Holder of the property at issue. She entered into a Written agreement that for $250,000, she purchased a life estate which was documented by a life-estate deed & promissory note. The conditions of the written agreement, as spelled out on the life-estate deed, required her to keep the property as her residence and to maintain the property in good order. She failed to meet ALL of her obligations : her payment was defaulted with a balance of $170,000, she failed to live at the property and left the property in despair condition. As a result, the property owner brought a lawsuit to enforce the written agreement which resulted in revocation of the life-estate agreement.

    All the court files are public records to verify!