It seems ages since I posted a blog, yet, apparently I posted my previous blog on April 10th. My daughter, Hayley, whom some of you know, suggested that I write about the reason that I have been away from Awakening Spirit – which is her and her family’s eviction (despite paying full rent on time each month and being responsible tenants) during the pandemic. On March 11th Hayley’s husband received a phone call from their landlord yelling at him and telling him they had to get out of the house right away as he was selling it. He wanted (like so many landlords in Ontario right now) to capitalize on the pandemic and the housing shortage and get in on the bidding wars that are making it near to impossible for young folks these days (unless they are very wealthy) to rent or buy a home.
Being evicted at any time is rugged. During a pandemic, it is harrowing, for reasons obvious to most of you. My main concern, with Hayley, has always been her asthma. Hayley grew up with severe asthma and struggled to breathe most days until she was 12 years of age. She had pneumonia six times by her 12th birthday and a partially collapsed lung at nine. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease (although we know it manifests in many ways and in many bodily systems) and therefore, Hayley being high risk, I thought she’d have been vaccinated on a priority list of some kind, but she wasn’t – well – in theory only. She will receive her first shot tomorrow as the province has opened up to anyone 18 and over. However, she had to go out and find a home during what was being called the height of this pandemic. As both her and her husband are working from home – like so many now – I offered to babysit my granddaughter, Alice, a 2 and a half year old armful of joy. But each day, I was sending Angels to Hayley to find a place and also to find a lawyer to protect their rights. Despite the jokes about lawyers (and yes, I know, some are definitely dicey!) due to me sending her the Egyptian goddess, Maat, goddess of truth, fairness and justice – she found an amazingly competent, professional and empathetic lawyer who specializes in tenant’s rights to represent her. In other words, a SJW (Social Justice Warrior). For most of the pandemic it has been legal to evict folks, (even paying folks, thousands have been evicted in Ontario) however, this landlord had violated other rules and the lawyer was able to prevent the landlord from ‘showing’ the house until they moved out – which protected Hayley from potential repeated exposure to Covid due to many showings in an attempt to get the now standard bidding wars going. Hayley went out with her N95 mask and found a new place to live within 10 days but in the meantime was worried she was going to lose her job because so much time was spent on this eviction and moving preparations and yet her work life was at a very intense period too.
Maat saw to it that Hayley’s lawyer protected her – and she is now settled in a similar townhome – 40 kms away from the old place, at $1, 000 more per month than the previous rent. Good thing she was able to hold onto her job/s.
Alls well that ends well. Okay, so lots worse things are happening to people. I totally agree! Many people are not getting their cancer treatments, many are dying of Covid (25, 000 + already in Canada) But, we were surprised how most people we told this story to (even a few people we consider friends) were definitely on the side of the landlord. If you feel the same way – no need to worry about him – he will make a fortune as the house has gone up $600,000 in two years and he has many other houses and the short delay in showings gave him time to ‘stage’ the home and get an even more frenzied bidding war started! And, yes, he knew my daughter was high-risk for Covid…
Now. If you don’t know me personally and you are reading this, you might feel that I wasn’t interested in this issue before my daughter was affected … but I was! I have signed numerous petitions to try to get the Ford government to stop evictions during the pandemic. I was doing this months before Hayley was evicted. I also just signed a petition yesterday to the Federal Government to create a National Bus Service to replace Greyhound which is leaving many low-income and rural communities stranded. Apparently, says Leadnow, “private companies are clamouring to fill the gap Greyhound left behind – but they’re fully prepared to abandon remote and indigenous communities in favour of more lucrative routes… for many Indigenous women, the difference between a bus ride and hitchhike could be life and death.” Do I care? Yes!! I don’t currently (have in the past) ride Greyhound, but, we are all ONE right?
That’s why I was surprised that eviction during a pandemic seemed a no-biggie to some folks. They compared it to a move by choice during a pandemic. Free choice is very different from eviction. This was not a move to get to a ‘better’ neighborhood, nearer to work, a better climate, a better school etc. Very different from a move from choice. Every move causes some disorientation for most people. Even a chosen move. However, during a pandemic, with an underlying condition and a toddler an eviction is much more stressful. Maybe provide some emotional support if you have a friend in this position. I have been providing emotional support for a friend recently widowed, another whose daughter was physically assaulted, another whose husband badly needs heart treatment that is not being given. All these hardships are occurring – Covid heightens the stress. All these issues were there before Covid-19 and, unless we all learn to care about others, they will all be there when Covid is conquered. Maybe, and I am optimistic, the issues and inequities that were there before the plague – will start to be addressed as more and more of us awaken. It is happening!
I had my physical on the phone yesterday. As a Ret’d Nurse – I know that a phone physical is actually impossible! But, we are in different times. Everything is more stressful when it happens during a global plague. I am very grateful for the health that allows my physical check-up to be on the phone. For some – that could mean the difference between life and death.
Love & Light, Monica