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SF housing market prompts assisted living facilities to close

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Senior housing advocates attend a hearing held by the Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee last Thursday to discuss the diminishing number of residential care facilities in San Francisco. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

The steep housing market in San Francisco is prompting homeowners who run assisted living homes to close their doors, contributing to the shortage of residential care facilities for the elderly in The City.

That’s according to a city public health official who spoke last Thursday at a Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee hearing on the declining number of assisted living homes in San Francisco.

“The smaller homes are closing their doors because financially, it’s just not feasible anymore,” said Cindy Kauffman, a deputy director with the Department of Aging and Adult Services. “Some of these owners said that their property was worth more than their business, so they were opting to sell their home.”

At the hearing, public health officials revealed that 19 residential-care facilities for the elderly have closed their doors since 2012, leaving San Francisco with just 77 assisted-living or board and care homes to bathe, feed and dress the elderly.

(Source: Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee)

It’s unclear how many have closed because of the housing market.

“In the past two years, nine of these facilities have already closed, and unless we find ways to help retain and incentive these facilities to operate, the shortage will continue to get worse,” said Supervisor Norman Yee, who called a hearing. “Too many seniors are being sent out of the county.”

Though 19 residential care facilities for the elderly have closed since 2012, the number of beds in residential care facilities for the elderly has not fallen as dramatically. The numbers show San Francisco still has 3,153 beds, just 72 fewer than five years ago.

“What we suspect is that many of the smaller, and more affordable boarding homes are closing while the larger, not as affordable are growing,” Sneha Patil, a senior health program planner with the Department of Public Health, said at the hearing.

The trend comes as San Francisco’s population continues to age. A DAAS report from 2016 found that more than 161,000 San Francisco residents are age 60 or older. That’s 20 percent of The City’s population.

The trend also follows news that Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center would close the last subacute unit in San Francisco at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission. The planned closure drew attention to the lack of subacute beds for typically older patients on ventilators and breathing tubes in The City.

“We don’t have enough across the entire spectrum of care for people as they age,” Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said at the hearing. “We haven’t built the infrastructure or the capacity.”

“This is incredibly depressing that we have not put in place the resources we need in order to maintain care for the people who really made this city where all the world seems to want to be right now,” Sheehy added.

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