SAN PABLO, Calif. - Seniors at a San Pablo assisted living facility are scrambling to find new homes, after the Brookdale management company told them just before Thanksgiving that the place would close when the lease runs out at the end of January.
"The anxiety, you can feel it in the air," said Carley Angell, president of the Brookdale San Pablo residents' council, "I couldn't believe it. I thought it must be a mistake. We admitted a new resident only three weeks ago."
Brookdale has offered to relocate residents to the companies other locations and offer $1,000 to each resident for moving expenses. Residents say they think Brookdale should do more.
The timing has been hard, too.
"We found out on Tuesday and Thanksgiving was Thursday," said Martha Kapla, another resident. "At this time of the year, it's just very hard."
The sudden announcement shocked many residents who say they worry they won't be able to find another affordable place to live by the Jan. 31 deadline.
"I was devastated. Because the first thing that came to mind is I don't have a lot of money and everything is so costly," said Karen Lovvorn, an 82-year-old resident.
Brookdale is a management chain that operates assisted living facilities nationwide. In a statement, a spokeswoman Heather Hunter explalined the reasons for not renewing the lease and said the property owners are to blame for the closure.
“The leasing of this community no longer aligns with Brookdale's strategy to own rather than lease its properties," the statement read.
"I was devastated. Because the first thing that came to mind is I don't have a lot of money and everything is so costly," said Karen Lovvorn, an 82-year-old resident. Dec. 9, 2019
This spring, Brookdale said it informed the owners that the company would not renew the lease when it expired in January 2020.
"We wanted to make sure they had ample time to sell or lease the building to a new senior living operator," Hunter wrote. "We understand they engaged a real estate broker to consider their options shortly thereafter."
In late October, Hunter said the residents' broker told Brookdale they wanted to sell the building for an alternate use and directed Brookdale to close the building.
The owners said in the Chronicle that they tried to offer Brookdale a lower price for the lease but that was not accepted.
Brookdale has offered to relocate residents to the companies other locations and offer $1,000 to each resident for moving expenses.
Residents say they think Brookdale should do more.
Robb Kapla, a San Francisco attorney and son of one resident, said Brookdale had allowed some residents to move in without telling them the company would be ending the lease in January. Kapla says state lawmakers should consider adding protections for seniors in assisted living to avoid sudden evictions.
"In California, it seems like this is a loophole. It does not make sense that an operating company can say we just choose to be long-term care business any more after they've taken people in to a long term care facility."
"Moving into one of these facilities you never think you'll have to move out," Kapla said. "Doing it all over again is gut-wrenching for these people and for the company it's just a loss-leader."