Saturday was moving day for many seniors at a Salmon Arm assisted-living facility who were evicted with less than a month’s notice.
Nearly three dozen low-income seniors and people with disabilities were notified they had to leave the McGuire Lake Congregate Living facility in mid-September after eviction letters were plastered around their building.
While tenants are usually given at least a month’s notice, the seniors at the privately-run facility ended up in a complicated legal situation.
Lorenz Eppinger, a spokesperson for the company that owns the building, said he told Dan Shields, who operates the facility, that his lease was terminated back in late July.
WATCH: (Sept 16) Seniors served eviction notices given less than a month to leave
Shields admits that he owes his landlord approximately $100,000.
However, Shields said he was hoping he and the company could work out some sort of business proposal to pay back the money owed. He didn’t notify his tenants that they needed to find somewhere else to live for Oct. 1.
Eppinger said the company put up a “courtesy notice” when it realized Shields hadn’t told his tenants that they needed to vacate the property.
That left many people scrambling to find an affordable place to live.
“I think it’s really disgusting to not give people what is their basic rights to get out,” resident Holly LeNeve said.
McGuire Lake Congregate Living Facility has been criticized for having appalling conditions, including a bed bug infestation.
On Saturday, people dressed in white coveralls carried people’s belongings into a truck out the back for fumigating before they were transported to new homes.
Judith Karding, who was helping a friend move, called the whole situation deplorable.
“It’s been a community here for everybody,” she said. “And if they all survive this, it’ll be a miracle because this is the most stressful and inhumane situation that they have ever been put in.”
Many people at the facility on Saturday said the system had failed and believed the government should have stepped in and taken a more active role.
“It’s a 100 per cent failure. This should have never, never happened,” resident Terry Sigvaldason said.
In a statement, BC Housing said although it isn’t affiliated with the privately-owned and operated residence, it has stepped in to help the residents given the critical need.
“Working with Interior Health and non-profit partners, BC Housing has found suitable homes for many residents, based on their health needs,” spokesperson Laura Mathews said in an email. “However, there are approximately seven people who have not yet secured long-term housing.”
BC Housing is considering placing the remaining people into a motel while permanent housing is being found for them, she added.
In an email, Eppinger said that his company is working with BC Housing to find new homes for everybody, and that it might take a few days beyond Oct. 1.
“Apparently the building deteriorated under Mr. Shield’s commercial tenancy to a point where it is presently no longer safe for occupancy (we have not been able to confirm nor dispute this finding),” he said.