Homeless for 1st time at 63

A Penticton senior was evicted from her home this week, with all her belongings tossed to the curb, adding another member to the city’s growing homeless population.

Angela Mclaren, 63, was legally evicted from her home of six years this week after losing a fight with her landlord before the Residential Tenancy Branch. The end result was a bailiff showing up Sunday to enforce the eviction order.

All of Mclaren’s worldly possessions, including her cat, were deposited at the rear of the building; Fairview Manor at 900 Fairview.

When Castanet News visited the site Tuesday, Mclaren was watching over what remained of her belongings after scavengers picked through them the nights prior.

“I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it,” she said, adding she has never been homeless before this eviction.

Mclaren says she was accused by her landlord of being a drug dealer and user, something she denies. She suspects she was targeted because she would let homeless people stay with her occasionally.

“We helped a few people, but you are not supposed to I guess,” she said. “They tried to say they were afraid of us and all that stuff.”

With the city’s shelters completely full, Mclaren has been sleeping in a tent nearby in an attempt to keep an eye on her things. Her efforts have been in vain, with Castanet witnessing a pair of men looting the pile of its furniture Tuesday night while Mclaren looked on helplessly.

When confronted, the men aggressively responded that it was "their right" to take some of the items, as they were surrounding a dumpster.

Fairview Manor is managed by Pacific Cove Properties out of Vancouver. Calls to the company’s local representative went unanswered Tuesday and Wednesday with a full voicemail box. An email request sent through the company’s website also received no reply.

Regardless of the reasons behind Mclaren’s eviction, she deserves a roof over her head, somewhere, says the executive director of the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.

“Everyone that wishes a home, should have a home,” said Debbie Scarborough. “It’s a basic human right.”

“In this country? We should be able to house someone that needs to be housed.”

She says SOWINS has approached BC Housing for funding to secure a low-barrier transition house for specifically for women “who are having difficulties sustaining their housing" or are hard to house in regular buildings.

Other supportive housing projects, like Compass Court and one being constructed on Winnipeg Street, will also provide low-barrier housing — but they are months away from completion.

The SOWINS emergency shelter is typically completely full all summer, when domestic violence surges, of women and children fleeing abusive relationships, Scarborough said.

The operator of the Compass Court shelter told Castanet last month their 25 beds are usually full, forcing them to turn people away regularly.

Mclaren said she hadn't really noticed "how bad" Penticton's homelessness problem has gotten until about 12 months ago.

"It's like an epidemic. I just realized it about a year ago, and now... I’m living it," she said.

with files from Chelsea Powrie 

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