A pensioner in B.C. is currently homeless after a hospital stay that lasted longer than expected.
Rhonda Elliott of Penticton, B.C., 69, says she went in for colon cancer surgery on Feb. 3, with the operation happening six days later.
The South Okanagan resident claims that complications ensued, and she wound up staying in hospital until late March. After being discharged, she returned to her apartment, only to find it had been cleaned out, with her possessions having been relocated to a local storage company.
“When I got out of the hospital, I went to go home and found out I didn’t have a home,” an emotional Elliott told Global News on Tuesday.
The senior said she paid February’s rent, but didn’t pay the rent for March because she wasn’t around.
“They thought I wasn’t there anymore,” Elliott said, “so they packed up all my belongings and they tell me that movers came and picked them up.”
Global News contacted the storage company, which confirmed that Elliott’s items are safely packed away, adding bailiffs boxed up and moved her possessions, not the company.
Elliott says she lived in the apartment for 2.5 years before losing her home.
“Sometimes I want to give up because I don’t know what to do anymore,” said Elliott, who moved into a hotel temporarily before running out of money and getting kicked out. She now lives in a hostel.
“And at 69 years old, when you get out of hospital and find out your home isn’t … it’s a shock to the system.”
To complicate matters, Elliott entered the hospital without her purse and identification — a move that would prove costly.
The senior says she had no way to pay rent while she was in the hospital. She also said her bank account was closed on Feb. 20, meaning her pension deposits were returned to the federal government.
“The bank had closed out my account because they couldn’t contact me because I hadn’t been around,” said Elliott.
“So I went into the bank and they said they couldn’t reopen the bank account because it had been closed down.”
Global News has reached out to several agencies, including the woman’s bank.
Without any identification, a bank account and a valid address, Elliott claimed she couldn’t get her pension cheques mailed out, though she’s since found a temporary address.
A woman with a slight build, Elliott she’s lost a lot of weight since the surgery, adding she’s putting in “strength to look for things, but I’m not looking after me.”
The Ministry of Housing called Elliott’s case highly unusual and extremely challenging.
“We appreciate how frustrating an experience this is for this resident and we empathize with her,” the ministry said in an email to Global News.
“We encourage her and other tenants who have questions about B.C.’s residential tenancy process to reach out to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).”
Briefly, the ministry says if rent isn’t paid by the due date, a landlord may sever a 10-day notice to evict, but the tenant then has five days to pay after receiving the notice or file an application for dispute with the RTB.
The ministry says one of the ways the notice can be received is being placed on a door, and that it’s considered received after being posted for 72 hours.
Elliott says she’s now registered with BC Housing “for something to come up. In the meantime, I have to find a place to live.”
She also credits her sister and a good friend for stepping up in her time of need, stating if she didn’t have them, she wouldn’t know what to do.
“But now we’re tapped out. We have nothing to go on anymore. We’re at the end of the line.”