Paying Your Rent

This is a true account which occurred in Burnaby Sept 2008


She was young, probably around 30, she was loved as she had a partner of many years, she was cared for as she had many friends, and was seen.


She was someone I saw every week or so.  She always entered our Outreach Resource Centre in a flurry with her boyfriend.  She was always tired, hungry and had a complaint or two about him.

After her immediate needs were addressed, we would talk. She would always check in with our nurse and nurse practitioner (who enviably pleaded with her to go the hospital but to no avail.)


Once in awhile we would have a laugh, usually at her boyfriend’s expense, and then she was off again to face another week of the same.


Like many other people who live in Burnaby and are dealing with homelessness, she and her boyfriend did not have an address but had to find a home nightly where ever they could find or build themselves shelter and make it through another day for there is no other place for them to go.


She, like many other Burnaby residents, had a different type of landlord named Addiction, and this landlord took total control of her life and almost all of her free will.


She died about a week ago, in an alley, behind a 7-11 in the company of a friend. Although her friend summoned medical

assistance and stayed with her while her lips turned blue and she stopped breathing, it was too late.  Her landlord had increased her rent for the final time.  The insurmountable pressure being place on the blood vessels of her brain and an aneurism was the by product causing her death.


She left many to grieve and question why she could not stop or at least why, when forewarned, did not seek medical attention when advised to do so. Many of her friends, who are in the same place and paying the same price, thought it was just one of those medical things that happen and coped with their loss through the use their drugs.  Her landlord was very pleased. Hence the cycle of addiction continues.


Many of us do things we know we shouldn’t and are consciously aware of the potential harmful consequences.  Addiction of any sort is difficult at best.


She probably hated her life and tried to do something to make a change but her landlord was far more powerful for her to do so successfully without support and a predictable roof over her head.


As sad as I am about her death, I see hope.  The friend who was with her when she was dying, first turned to his landlord (drugs) for solace and then connected with us as he felt he may be able to take a small step away from his current life and take one step towards a life that he had more control over.


Her friend entered a recovery program to attempt to keep taking steps away from landlord. We wish him well and feel in some way something positive occurred that was a direct result of her death.  She was someone’s inspiration and she will be missed.


Author's name withheld due to confidentiality.


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