City of St. John's evicting 82-year old woman, who says she hasn't been told why

Shirley Cox, 82, is facing eviction from her city-operated apartment.  (Anthony Germain/CBC - image credit)
Shirley Cox, 82, is facing eviction from her city-operated apartment. (Anthony Germain/CBC - image credit)
Anthony Germain/CBC
Anthony Germain/CBC

The City of St. John's is about to evict an 82-year old woman who uses a wheelchair — as she says no one has told her why.

For now, Shirley Cox lives on her own in an apartment on the second floor of Riverhead Towers on Hamilton Avenue, near many of her friends — but she only has a few days left to pack her belongings.

The city's eviction notice doesn't give a clear reason as to why they want Cox out of the apartment, something she said was "a shock" when she found it pinned to her door.

But Cox believes the city's evicting her because she's a smoker.

She told CBC News on Tuesday she doesn't smoke indoors but can only make it as far her building's front door, and not the designated smoking area on the property.

"This old chair is not the best. There's a dip in the top part [of the sidewalk]. It's not a big dip, but the wheel gives out and I could tip over," Cox said.

"The smoking area is down over the hill, right in through the back, and I just can't handle it."

Cox said she doesn't bother anyone with her smoking, except for one person who she said made a complaint to the city.

Anthony Germain/CBC
Anthony Germain/CBC

The city's housing manager, Judy Tobin, is listed as the landlord on the notice, which reads "I am terminating the tenancy and require you to move out of the residential premises on 10-31-2022," but doesn't offer any reason for the eviction.

When reached for comment by CBC News, the city didn't address the smoking issue or offer a reason as to why they're evicting Cox.

The city did issue a statement, quoting Coun. Olivia Ravencroft.

"Regardless of circumstance, issuing an eviction notice is the most difficult decision with which staff in the housing division are faced. It is always our last resort, and it is not executed without proper consideration and due notice," said Ravencroft in the statement.

"While the division does not offer 'supportive housing,' our staff empathise with all tenants and do their best to uphold the regulations that are set out in the Residential Tenancies Act."

Danny Arsenault/CBC
Danny Arsenault/CBC

Cox took her problem to the provincial level, contacting interim NDP leader and district MHA Jim Dinn.

Dinn told CBC News his party has been in touch with the city.

"We got the same answer," Dinn said, referring to the city's statement to CBC News.

"Our intent was to find out how we can avoid having her evicted and putting her in a situation where she's now homeless and isolated."

Dinn said his constituency assistant will visit Cox to help with an appeal.

If the appeal doesn't go their way, he said he's not sure what will happen.

"I hope the city can come up with a solution that doesn't involve eviction," Dinn said.

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