"Justice for Nelia!"
A battle cry for justice was heard in the streets of Mount Pleasant this week as locals rallied to support vulnerable tenants on the brink of a "renoviction."
Nelia and Wilfredo Guevarra are 67-year-old Filipino immigrants who have lived at the corner of Broadway and Carolina for 24 years. Two years ago, their building was bought by PortLiving - a condo developer that plans to erect a 65-unit residential building with artist studios on the site.
As the couple struggles to find accommodation during the pandemic, they say the developer isn't allowing them adequate time to find a new place. They also say systemic issues must be addressed by the City for tenants to be protected in these situations.
"I want to say to the city that I feel unexplained pain of injustice. That there is something wrong, morally wrong, in the system that should be corrected. Otherwise, there will be an eternal crisis of homelessness and injustice," Nelia Guearra told the Vancouver Tenant's Union.
"And to the PortLiving executives, I want to talk to you personally," she said. "Since you bought this place, you've turned our life upside down.
"You just want to get rid of us."
Protestors who attended the rally on Wednesday held signs that read "Stop displacement," "Housing is a human right," and "Developers don't care."
Now, a GoFundMe campaign entitled "Legal Fund for Vulnerable Tenants, the Guevarras" is calling on the community to help the family fight displacement.
"PortLiving is evicting the Guevarras’ while providing very little by way of compensation, despite the fact that their rent will almost double due to this displacement. To make matters worse, the City of Vancouver is not enforcing the Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy, essentially letting this developer off the hook for the already inadequate provisions required under the policy," writes campaign organizer, Lillian Deeb.
The couple is filing for a stay of eviction, but Deeb says they could be faced with paying PortLiving's legal fees if they lose. These fees could range from $1,500 - $5,000.
Find out more about the campaign, visit here.
Have a look at some of the photos and videos from the protest.
“You just want to get rid of us without feeling, without compassion, without humanness.” Nelia shares her frustration with @PortLiving and @CityofVancouver. Help her and her neighbours get just compensation. Link in bio. #StopPortLiving #DefendBroadwayCarolina #JusticeForNelia
Three years ago I was renoevicted from a awesome loft I lived in Gastown. Since, my current slum landlord tried to evict me in the first month of living there. It is where I currently live for the last three years. But at that moment I decided that I was going to fight back and I won. Nelia Guevarra is 67 and has been living in her current space for 20+ years. Today was a protest for justice for low income renters on Carolina at facing demoviction by developer Portliving. Check out @vancouvertenantsunion for more information. #justicefornelia #defendmountpleasant
Check out this amazing comic about the tenants at Broadway Carolina by @outtatheinkwell ! AND don't forgot our COVID-safe rally to support these tenants, happening tomorrow Sept 30th at Broadway and Carolina, 12PM. Please share widely! #justicefornelia #defendmountpleasant #defendbroadwaycarolina
Vancouver Is Awesome has reached out to PortLiving for comment and will update the story when more information becomes available.