SAN PABLO (KPIX) — Seniors are surely the most vulnerable population when it comes to the coronavirus. Yet more than a dozen elderly residents of the San Pablo Brookdale senior-living facility are being evicted.

“This was going to be my stairway to heaven. It’s turned into my corridor to hell,” said 73-year-old resident Vince Dunn.

Senior citizens at Brookdale aren’t just worried about where they’re going to live, they’re worried about where they’re going to die.

“I didn’t expect to have to move again and die somewhere else,” 82-year-old Carley Angell said.

They’re seniors living on a fixed income. Dunn is a former teacher living off his pension and Angell is a former nurse living off social security. They’re being evicted because Brookdale, the largest senior-living provider in the country, didn’t renew its lease in San Pablo. The owner of the building is determined to sell so everyone must be out by March 30.

“We have been working closely with the Department of Social Services since late fall 2019, when the landlord of the community told us they wanted to sell the building for an alternate use and directed us to close the building. Despite our requests that they continue operating the property as an assisted living community, they refused; instead, they continued with their mandate that we close the community to return the property to them unoccupied,” Brookdale said in a statement to KPIX.

Residents in San Pablo say they’re already vulnerable in this hot housing market. There’s nowhere they can afford to go at the same price. Dunn says his rent at Brookdale was $1,800/month and he has yet to find anywhere comparable for less than $3,000 a month. The global pandemic of coronavirus only adds to the confusion.

“Coronavirus has got us all scared,” Dunn said.

“We could probably legally be thrown out on the streets at the end of this month. That’s bad enough but to do it with this virus coming along is really scary,” Angell said.

The city of San Jose already imposed a moratorium on evictions during this global pandemic. Now seniors at Brookdale are asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to step in and extend that moratorium to the entire state. They’re gathering signatures on a petition hoping the governor will intervene.

“Especially while this coronavirus is going on it would be criminal to ask us to leave,” Angell said.

Brookdale says it wants to work with tenants and that options were offered but Dunn and Angell say those options were either too expensive or too far away from family. At their age, they know they don’t have forever and the pandemic is causing them to panic.

“It’s terrible, I’m anxious I’m frightened and I have more than one reason to be frightened,” Angell said.

The full statement from Brookdale:

“At this time, Brookdale is devoting significant time and resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic to provide for the health and welfare of our residents. Our local, regional and corporate staff are dedicated to implementing measures that best protect our residents.

We have been working closely with the Department of Social Services since late fall 2019, when the landlord of the community told us they wanted to sell the building for an alternate use and directed us to close the building. Despite our requests that they continue operating the property as an assisted living community, they refused; instead, they continued with their mandate that we close the community to return the property to them unoccupied.

To assist our residents, we have offered several options, including but not limited to assistance with moving and honoring their current rent rates if they move to certain other area Brookdale communities. We continue to do our best to support our residents and we continue to go above and beyond to assist them in finding their new home before the landlord mandated closure deadline approaches. We can report that approximately 80% of our residents have relocated to new living options.

The health and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority and we will continue to work closely with the state regulatory agency and other governmental authorities to transition the remaining residents to their new homes while keeping their health and wellbeing in mind.”

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