By Dakari Thomas
San Francisco housing groups on Sept. 22 declared a “renters state of emergency” and protested the eviction of 100-year-old resident Iris Canada.
Canada was set to be evicted on Sept. 14 after failing to reach an agreement with her landlords, but upon seeing her eviction notice, became violently ill and required hospitalization. Her attorney was able to prolong her stay for a week because of her illness.
She and her apartment complex’s landlords initially had an agreement that allowed her to pay the usual rent while remaining the only person living in her Lower Haight apartment.
The landlords asserted that Canada was breaking their agreement by living in Oakland with her niece. In response, her family stated she was just spending some time there due to health issues.
The situation was presumably resolved when Superior Court Judge James Patterson ruled that she could continue to reside in the apartment, but she was still instructed to cover the landlord’s legal cost that may exceed $100,000, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
After the ruling, attorneys on each side made efforts to agree upon a settlement, though it didn’t work so well for Canada. If she complied, she would have to sign a document that would convert the apartments into condos, and issue an apology for her alleged aggressive legal tactics.
With people of many ages and races in tow, a crowd of approximately 100 people rallied, chanting and speaking with passersby about the housing crisis outside Canada’s building.
City College’s Solidarity Committee attended the rally, taking a stance on education, transportation, police brutality and eviction issues in San Francisco.
“I have family that lives in the Mission District that are all gone now. There’s one relative left,” City College student Win-Mon Kyi said. “Even where I live, there is rent control and I’m already paying $3,200 a month. It has to change.”
After the initial gatherings, a number of neighborhood figures and concerned citizens, including Canada’s niece, voiced their support for Canada and their continuing struggle with San Francisco’s housing crisis.
Affording a house in the San Francisco metro area requires the highest salary of any U.S. city at $162,000, according to Business Insider. If a buyer wanted to make a down payment of 10 percent instead of 20 percent, they would need to make over $196,000.
This makes it the most expensive city in the U.S. to buy a home.
“My family is from here. We shouldn’t have to move to Santa Clara. We shouldn’t have to move to Vallejo,” activist Renee Cyprien said. “This gentrification is a problem.”
The demonstration was peaceful but infuriated others. It began on the corner of Page and Steiner Street in the Lower Haight neighborhood.
A man living in the same building as Canada was roused from his sleep by the protest and ripped part of the sign hanging from his roof out of anger.
After marching down the street while chanting “Get Up! Get Down! It’s a housing crisis in this town!”, ralliers occupied the entire intersection of Haight and Fillmore Streets. Multiple bus routes were affected and many commuters were abandoned and rerouted.
Instead of controlling the crowd or forcing them to disperse, police followed closely and helped to keep traffic from harming pedestrians until the protest ended at approximately 10 a.m.