New Brunswick

Saint John woman claims she's been unfairly evicted

A Saint John woman with cerebral palsy claims she is being wrongfully evicted from her apartment in the city’s north end, for being a nuisance to others.

Woman with cerebral palsy says neighbours harassed her

Brenda Burke, 52, lives with cerebral palsy. (CBC)

A Saint John woman with cerebral palsy claims she is being wrongfully evicted from her apartment in the city's north end, for being a nuisance to others.

Brenda Burke, 52, received the notice to vacate her housing co-op unit on Second Street in April, stating her behaviour was in breach of the policy that says tenants cannot "interfere in the enjoyment of other members, nor shall they commit or permit any nuisance or noise that would unduly disturb other members."

No details to support the notice were given.

According to Burke, the truth is the other way around.

"I've been harassed here in the building. There have been people harassing me," said Burke about some of her neighbours, whom she declined to identify by name.

Brenda Burke received notification that she would have to move from her co-op apartment in April. (CBC)
"Asking me who my doctors were, telling me I was crazy, listening at my doors. One lady said 'I'll make sure you don't live here and I wish you didn't live here.'"

Despite the harassment she describes, Burke prefers her current apartment to the one where she is now forced to move.

"It's bigger and I need room because I use a walker. I need room to walk around," she said.

Had complained about harassment

Burke said she had complained to the board about the way some neighbours were treating her but no action was taken.

"I went to our corporation and complained and nothing was ever done. I was told to ignore them but they were kind of hard to ignore," said Burke.

Kit Hickey, executive director of Housing Alternatives, the non-profit organization that manages Burke's co-op and others in southwestern New Brunswick, said she could not speak about Burke's case specifically due to privacy reasons, but did talk about the procedure in general terms.

Burke's friend, Samantha Belanger-Mailman, says she has seen people who live in the apartment complex spying on, and harassing Burke. (CBC)
"A member would be given a notice that their occupancy rights were up for review. They would have an opportunity to appear before the board of directors to give their side of the story," she said.

Hickey also said when a person can't make the meeting due to health reasons their circumstances are taken into consideration.

However when Burke missed her appeal meeting in May due to what she called a "breakdown," she said no new appeal was allowed.

"They didn't bring me in front of the board. The appeal was denied. It was done privately, not with me," Burke said.

Friends back up Burke's story

Some of Burke's neighbours back up her stories of harassment.

"I've caught them at her door listening, I've caught them yelling at her. I've heard her have to yell back at them to leave her alone," said Samantha Belanger-Mailman, a friend of Burke's who lives in a nearby apartment.

"Once I was coming down and I heard yelling and one of them called her a (expletive) bitch," said Lisa Nesbitt, who lives on the second floor of the same building.

Burke has lived in the apartment building for four years, during which she said she's been constantly picked on — most likely because of her medical condition, she believes.

"I don't think I got a fair shake out of this deal. I shouldn't have had to move out of my apartment," she said.