A San Francisco-based assisted living facility for the elderly is slated for eviction July 10, a jarring and unexpected turn of events for families who are concerned about their loved ones’ health and wellbeing. However, concerned families and the facility's board of trustees are working in tandem with city officials to craft a solution, so a different outcome may still be in the works.
Just before Mother’s Day, residents received 60-day eviction notices announcing the pending closure of University Mound Ladies Home. Residents were told that the facility would be closing its doors due to insurmountable debt, and that they would have to vacate by July 10.
“The current residents had expected to spend the rest of their lives there, in peace,” said Sandra Parker, whose mother Alice Parker, 89, has been a resident there for nearly three years. “They do not want to move.”
Located in San Francisco’s Portola District, University Mound – which houses men as well as women – has been at its current location since 1884. As a charitable organization, its mission has always been to provide an affordable community-based assisted living option.
University Mound provides housing and care for 52 residents, with licensing to care for up to 72, including 60 who are unable to walk without assistance. Many are in their late 80s or early 90s, making an abrupt move a difficult and potentially dangerous prospect.
Bill Brinkman of Jigsaw Advisors, a crisis management consultant, was hired to assist the troubled elder care center. The Bay Guardian was unable to reach Brinkman to ask what had led to the dire financial straits, or what possible resolutions were being contemplated.
“They’re saying the debt is based on a broken business model. In 2006 or 2008 the community stepped in, and somehow kept it going,” explained Parker, noting that Brinkman and the board of trustees had told family members that the nonprofit's debt amounted to $600,000. “I don’t think they did due diligence to keep them financially sound.”
Sup. David Campos, whose District 9 includes the facility, has initiated a process to try and work with the elder care facility to stave off the pending displacement and identify some solution to prevent immediate closure. However, as of June 11, Campos’ legislative aide Laura Lane informed us that despite attending meetings and approaching University Mound to find out what viable options might be available, the elder care center had yet to identify a workable solution.
Campos and affected family members also enlisted the help of Mayor Ed Lee to try and secure emergency funding for University Mound, with Parker noting that a figure of $300,000 had been floated in meetings as a requested amount. Christine Falvey, a spokesperson for Mayor Lee, did not return calls seeking details about that possibility.
Meanwhile, a property records search revealed that the University Mound entered into a deed of trust with three corporate shareholders on May 27, more than two weeks after the eviction notices were issued.
Under a deed of trust arrangement, a borrower transfers their interest in real property – in this case, the stately 1932 brick building that houses the elder care home at 350 University Street – to a neutral trustee, who holds the interest until a debt is repaid. It appears this was done in exchange for a loan of $1.7 million, provided by three lenders: Rubicon Mortgage Fund, a limited liability company based in Lafayette; Pacific BVL Corporation, a San Francisco-based corporation; and Daniel Weiss, named as trustee, whose company is described as The Weiss Company, Inc., a 401(K) Profit Sharing Plan.
If University Mound defaults on the loan, the the property could revert to the trustee. According to an automated report from the San Francisco Assessor / Recorder's office, the building is valued at $2.1 million, not including the land, which is valued at $840,000.
It is unclear why University Mound, under Brinkman's interim leadership, opted to take on more debt and enter into a deed of trust after sending out eviction notices to its residents and announcing the facility's pending closure. This could be a strategy for paying off existing debt, or it could be a sign that the facility is trying to find a solution for staying in operation beyond July 10. If Brinkman responds with more information, we will update this post.
When we dialed a number listed online that corresponded to Weiss' company, and to the address listed on the deed of trust, the person who answered the phone said he wasn't Weiss, but that he did not believe Weiss had any involvement with such a deal. Pressed for more information, the person said, "I'm just here fixing a computer. I just picked up the phone."
The University Mound Board of Trustees was scheduled to meet last night, June 12, and again on June 17. At this juncture, it seems there have been no updates as to whether the current residents will be granted an extension or if they will be forced to move by July 10.
“Because we have been kept in the dark as to the financial situation is at UMLH, and how the situation has developed, we do not have confidence that every avenue and creative solution has been explored and considered to keep UMHL open and not displace the current residents,” said Parker.