Holding on tight to warm his dying wife Thursday, Gerry Casey tried to comfort her, as they face an unimaginable fear.
“She’s deteriorating, she’s getting skinny,” said Casey.
Yet the Nanaimo seniors are being evicted and have suddenly been given two weeks notice, for what Sharon Kowalchuk’s support worker is calling the most heartless reason.
“It’s disgusting. There’s no legal grounds for it. You know she’s palliative, she doesn’t have much longer to live,” said Shawn Nickerson, a community support worker for Kowalchuk.
“My landlord just came up and told me I had to move in two weeks. No paperwork. Nothing,” said Nanaimo resident Kowalchuk.
According to Kowalchuk, the verbal eviction notice from her landlord made it clear, the end-of-life care she needs is too disruptive.
“Because I’ve had ambulances coming, he says he’s having complaints,” she added.
Wednesday night, the landlord shut off all heat and power to the couple’s tiny south Nanaimo suite.
Without hydro, what’s already difficult has been made even harder. Without any running electricity, Kowalchuk can no longer power the device that refills her oxygen tanks.
Kowalchuk has lived in the residence for the last six months, and has paid up all of her rent.
When CHEK News approached the property owner, he didn’t want to be interviewed.
“Get the f— off my property,” the landlord yelled from his doorstep, before grabbing CHEK News’ camera and yelling further expletives.
CHEK News left without further comment.
According to advocates for low income renters, it’s not uncommon to see this kind of victimization. Because of the lack of housing, there are few other other options but the street to turn to.
However, one advocate is helping the couple fight back.
“Obviously that is an illegal eviction, there’s no doubt about it,” said Risebridge director Alex Martino, a local charity that helps tackle the housing issue in Nanaimo.
In the meantime, Kowalchuk’s care worker has secured an emergency hotel room to move her into for the next few days. Since a dispute through the Residential Tenancy Branch will take longer than the weeks she has left to live. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the couple secure a rental.
After CHEK News’ story about Kowalchuk’s situation aired, B.C.’s Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon reached out and said the Residential Tenancy Branch is looking into the situation.
“The story as reported is extremely concerning,” Kahlon said in an email to CHEK News.
“I have ensured that the Residential Tenancy Branch’s Compliance and Enforcement Unit is aware of this situation so they can investigate and take any necessary steps to ensure that the tenant’s rights are being protected. Our government brought in the CEU in 2019 to ensure there is a team that responds quickly to protect people.”