Late-discovered corpse leaves Hamilton city tenant in distress


When Gloria Sanchez noticed the odour in her Hamilton apartment, she wondered if it was a dead rodent or rotting garbage.

It turned out the stench was, in fact, human. The bodily fluids of a man who died two floors up had been leaking into her unit.

The unpleasant news came as a shock to Sanchez, 79, who has lived pleasantly at 200 Jackson St. W. for 11 years.

“I don’t know if he has family or not,” said Sanchez, a retired personal support worker originally from the Philippines.

Last week, a contractor hired by CityHousing Hamilton knocked ceiling-to-floor holes in bedroom and living room walls to work on cleaning up.

The walls were covered with black plastic fastened by tape. Tiles were torn up, baseboards removed.

But now Sanchez is still waiting for the landlord to finish the job.

The apartment is in disarray, her belongings piled on her bed and furniture crowded away from the walls, taking up floor space.

The odour has not gone away.

“They’re trying to do something,” Sanchez said. “It’s a little bit slow.”

In the meantime, she is spending nights at her daughter’s home because she can’t stand the lingering smell.

CityHousing says staff immediately investigated after they were told about the odour on Sept. 2.

Learning about the deceased tenant, a contractor was hired to “immediately address several impacted units,” Allison Jones said.

“As part of the hazard control process, sections of drywall and flooring have already been removed. Work is expected to be completed early next week.”

Staff plan to stay in contact with residents to address any other concerns, Jones said.

Sanchez’s daughter, Doris, isn’t pleased with her mom’s situation. “My beef is that she has absolutely no living space and it has been 10 days.”

Jones said tenants haven’t asked for temporary transfers, but such requests “would quickly be accommodated” should they be made.

Doris Sanchez says the situation also serves as a reminder of what can befall older tenants who live on their own.

“There’s got to be better alarm bells set up for home-alone seniors,” said Sanchez, who works in The Spectator’s circulation department.

Her mother says the person who died was a large man who used a wheelchair to get around.

It’s not unusual for emergency responders to find older people whose deaths have gone unnoticed in their homes.

“It can be quite common depending on if this person has family living in the area or has infrequent visitors,” said paramedic superintendent Dave Thompson.

Older adults are at higher risk of falling, he said. “Sometimes a fall can lead them to being on the floor for a few days.”

Thompson said paramedics recommend that seniors living on their own have a medical alert system set up to hail emergency services in case of accidents.

CityHousing offers its “deepest condolences to the family of the deceased resident,” Jones said. 905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

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