Seniors displaced by retirement home closure meet with Councilwoman Burke

Seniors displaced by retirement home closure meet with Councilwoman Burke

The seniors who once had a clear picture of their future at The Academy Retirement Community are now adjusting to an uncomfortable uncertainty. Dozens of residents who call The Academy home are being forced out and have just one month to find new places to live.

The Academy was sold to Stellar Senior Living, a Utah-based company that plans to turn the retirement home into an apartment building. Residents like 91-year-old Evy Lund were told they needed to move out by mid-November with 40-days notice.

“Makes us feel really sad. Sad and mad,” Lund said. “Everybody’s losing things. Everybody can’t go where they want to go. Everybody’s getting confused. And we aren’t comfortable with it at all.”

Lund has called The Academy home for three years. She was one of dozens who voiced their frustrations to Spokane City Council Member Kate Burke at an emotional open meeting Monday at The Academy.

“Nobody really had any idea that we were going to move,” Lund said. “I just can’t understand why this is all happening. I just don’t want it to happen anymore.”

Burke told the seniors she wanted to listen and take note of their concerns.

“We need to make sure that our citizens are protected under state law and these folks weren’t, clearly,” she said.

She said she would look into state and city policies to protect senior tenants, including the addition of a provision in eviction notices to give residents more time to find a place to live. One resident offered the idea of grandfathering in senior living facilities.

“If they’re built as a senior facility it needs to stay a senior facility,” Burke said. “Because a lot of these folks move in thinking this is the last place they’ll live.”

Burke told KXLY the meeting was heartbreaking, but helpful as she tries to figure out how to prevent this from happening again. She believes the city and state are not making senior living a priority.

“We need to make sure that we’re building incentives in so that people are building facilities like this and that it is a priority because when the baby boomers start aging out and needing a place to live, they’re not going to have a place to go,” Burke said.

Burke heard emotional testimony from seniors Monday at The Academy. Some are still looking for a place to live — they say there aren’t many assisted living options in Spokane.

“This is kind of hurting my heart, my feelings,” one man told Burke as he held back tears.

Other residents, like Lund, have found a place to live. But it hasn’t come without sacrifice. One woman said the move wiped out her savings account. Another said her children have been forced to pitch in to cover a $600 jump in rent.

Lund is moving to another facility with about a dozen other residents. She’ll be downsizing and is upset to leave behind some of her furniture she bought in the 50’s.

“It’s just things that I’ve had for years and I don’t want to part with them,” Lund said. “I don’t want to give them away.”

Not only that, but she’s sad she’s being forced to start over and leave behind a tight-knit community.

“We’ll be living separately, different places,” Lund said. “And we won’t have opportunity to really have a good contact with each other.”

Seniors at The Academy have until Nov. 15 to find new homes. KXLY reached out to Stellar Senior Living, the company who bought the building, for a comment but has not heard back.

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