Declaring that San Francisco has "lost its soul," a city supervisor pledged Thursday to use every means at The City's disposal to stop the closure of a Portola district senior assisted-living home and the eviction of 27 elderly people in their 80s and 90s.
Serving eviction notices on people at that stage of their lives is akin to a "death sentence," Supervisor David Campos told board of trustees members and officials of the University Mound Ladies Home, which is in the process of closing after its two-story brick campus was sold to a private school for $5.7 million last week.
"This city is changing to the point that we are forgetting what we are about," Campos said. "We need to do everything we possibly can to stop this closure."
"If that means suing you," Campos told the home's board, "we will do that. If that means rezoning this area, we will do that."
The home has since the 1880s served men and women of "modest means," offering low-income seniors living quarters for thousands of dollars less than competing assisted living homes. Those accommodations were funded largely by $100,000 endowment left by James Lick, a prominent citizen of early San Francisco.
That endowment dried up early in the 21st century and, since 2008, the home has since been borrowing money to stay open, going into debt just to make payroll, said John Sedlander, who serves on the board of trustees.
"It's just a model that doesn't work," he said, adding that the board is "not prepared" to rescind the eviction notices it issued to residents in May.
The City had offered University Mound "about $250,000 to $300,000" to help keep the facility open, spokesman Adam Alberti said, but its debts are larger than that.
Under the terms of the sale to Alta Vista School, a private elementary school using nearby Archdiocese of San Francisco buildings as a temporary campus, seniors at the home now will receive up to $1,000 a month to cover payments at their next assisted-living facility.
A room at University Mound costs about $3,000 a month. Similar rooms elsewhere in the Bay Area can fetch twice that, said Sandra Parker, whose 89-year old mother, Alice, is among the seniors informed that they must move.
The sale is scheduled to close July 31. AgeSong, an assisted-living company with facilities in Hayes Valley and the East Bay, has been given until July 22 to match Alta Vista's offer and keep University Mound open as an elderly folks home.
But that may not be enough time. In response, Campos has asked the city attorney to see if University Mound's real estate can be rezoned to remain an assisted-living facility.
Barring that, The City may file a lawsuit to halt the closure, Campos said Thursday.
"I am going to fight to do everything I possibly can until hell freezes over to stop the closure of this facility," he vowed.