Ain't Nobody Home: Gap in California Law Lets Board and Care Home Operators Hide Foreclosures From Their Elderly Residents Until The Sheriff Comes Knocking At The Door
According to a recent New York Times article, When Foreclosure Threatens Elder Care Homes, that is the situation that Brenda Wing, pictured here, found herself in when she went to visit her 84-year-old father in the Northstar Manor care home in Woodland, here in Northern California. Records show that the home was in foreclosure but the homes owners gave their elderly residents no warning that eviction could be imminent, and they even lied to Brenda Wing when she asked them about it, telling her that there was nothing to worry about, and when she persisted, that it was none of her business.
How big of a problem is this? The New York Times analysis shows that here in the San Francisco Bay Area there are 1,600 board and care homes -- small residential care homes for elderly who need simple “custodial” care or assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and grooming – and that 16 percent of them have been in some stage of foreclosure since June 2006. That includes more than 100 homes under foreclosure in the last six months, with as many as 700 elderly residents affected.
Board and care home owners are taking advantage of a gap in California law, which lets them keep their elderly residents in the dark as to the care home’s financial troubles, even when foreclosure of the care home or eviction from the home is imminent. The board and care home owners involved would rather hide the foreclosure than take the chance that their elderly residents would move before the property was sold.
Anthony Chicotel, a Staff Attorney with advocacy group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), who is working on changing the law, is quoted by the Times as pointing out that the elderly can be evicted “without any notice, without preparation, without any arrangements for an alternative residence. Not only are they losing their home, but they are losing the services that allow them to live.” To rectify that, CANHR has asked State Senator Mark Leno, to introduce legislation that would require care home owners to notify the licensing authority, and the elderly residents and their families, within 24 hours of notification of foreclosure, bankruptcy, missing a mortgage payment or the prospect of a utility cutoff. The proposed law would also fine owners who failed to do so $100 a day, and permanently disqualify them from operating elder-care homes in California.
The bill won’t be voted on until June. California Governor Schwarzenegger may need a push to sign this legislature, assuming it passes the California legislature. Click here to email him to support the change in the law and protect the elderly from unexpected foreclosures.
What can you do to protect yourself from this type of situation or if you are in this type of situation?
1. Check the property address on a real estate website
such as www.zillow.com, which may list whether they
are current on their mortgage, whether the
property is in foreclosure or preforeclosure.
2. Ask the owner of the board and care if they are
behind on their mortagage, in pre-foreclosure or
foreclosure, whether they are any plans for the
property to change hands in the next year, and
whether they are having any financial
difficulties. Bring someone with you as a witness
so it won't be just your word against theirs.
3. Get the owner's commitment to inform you of any
difficulties that could force the sale of the
property, as soon as they materialize.
4. If you learn of foreclosure, contact the bank
(the name will be posted on the eviction
notice)directly and try to negotiate a delay
of the sale until you can relocate.
5. Consult a lawyer and call the state licensing
office, the Department of Social Services
Community Care licensing. Their website is
Click here to read the Times article.
California Watch Expose: Nursing Homes Take Advantage of 2004 Law To Boost Their Profit Margin, Not Their Staffing or Wages
Remember a law California passed in 2004, designed to provide California nursing homes with additional MediCal money? This law -- The Nursing Home Quality Care Act -- was passed to address nursing homes’ complaint that the homes are understaffed because they simply cannot afford to hire more staff or to pay more wages. Under this law, the state’s 1,100 nursing homes received an additional $880 million in funding during 2004-2008, to hire more staff and pay better wages. Reporter Christina Jewett (pictured at the right) of California Watch has done a study, Nursing Homes Received Millions While Cutting Staff, Wages to see whether the additional funding to nursing homes has resulted in better staffing and salary levels. Jewett reports that 232 of 645 nursing homes receiving the extra funding either cut staffing, reduced wages, or violated state law minimum staffing level laws. These same nursing homes had fatter profit margins than other California nursing homes.
Jewett was also able to show a further correlation – the nursing homes receiving the extra funds that made the steepest staffing cuts also had about 30% more “deficiencies” (violations of State Title 22 licensing regulations) than the average California nursing home.
One other interesting fact in the article, “Nursing homes are allowed to bill the state for legal fees spent fighting abuse and neglect citations and lawsuits. They can bill for legal fees spent fighting audit findings they disagree with.” In other words, your tax dollars are going to help nursing homes hire lawyers to defeat elder abuse lawsuits and to challenge state officials who find the nursing home to be breaking the law.
The California Watch articles are mandatory reading for anyone with a family member in a California nursing home or anyone with a lawsuit against a California nursing home. The California Watch website contains data for each of the 232 nursing homes on the list (organized by county and by facility name). Check to see if your nursing home is on the list -- if it is, it should be a red flag to you that the nursing home is compromising staffing or wages for the sake of corporate profits. If you are prosecuting a lawsuit against a nursing home who has fattened its profit margin while cutting its staff, the data will help you build your case that the nursing home was reckless, willful or malicious under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.
Sunday, April 18, 2010, 03:56 PM - Heros & HeroinesIf you don't like cute animal stories, . . . read this anyway. You'll love this one.
A dog, Bella, and an elephant, Tarra, living on an elephant sanctuary, became best friends. They don’t let their differences (in this case their species) get in the way of their friendship. These animals have something to teach us about accepting each other’s differences and finding joy in unlikely situations.
Click below to see the original story, broadcast on CBS News by reporter Steve Hartmann.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 02:21 PM - Medical IssuesAfter Keith Olbermann’s (CountDown With Keith Olbermann, on MSNBC) Dad went in the hospital, Keith and his family dealt up close and personal with end of life issues. Keith is passionate about everything he cares about, and that applies to the issue of living wills a.k.a. advanced directives, legal documents which state your wishes regarding end of life care issues and which control the type and level of care you receive.
Family members who are forced to make such decisions for their loved ones in the crisis of the moment, after their loved one is in the hospital, often feel terribly conflicted –-Are they putting their loved one through unnecessary pain and suffering at the end of life, with no real chance of meaningful recovery, or Are they giving up too easily, when their loved one might be able to pull through and return to a good quality of life? Once your loved one lands in the hospital, they may not be able to tell you their wishes. By having the discussion in advance of hospitalization, you will give yourself some peace of mind that you know your loved one’s wishes, and you will be confident of making the decisions they would want for themselves.
Click on the youtube link below to hear Keith’s impassioned pitch for discussing end of life issues with your family and formulating a living will expressing your wishes.
Although most states including California recognize living wills or advanced directives, the requirements vary from state to state. To see what the options are in your state, check out this article from Findlaw:
http://estate.findlaw.com/estate-planni ... wills.html
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 11:18 AM - Heros & HeroinesDirector Stephen Walker, pictured here, has made a film for Indepedent Lens about a chorus in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Although the chorus members are in their 80s, the music they perform is anything but geriatric, unless the Clash's "London Calling" now qualifies as old folks music.(I think not). Although you're probably still skeptical, as I admit I am, you can tell just by looking at the film's poster, below, that it is something special.
Will Joe Strummer be rolling over in his grave when they perform "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" Tune in tonight and find out. Here in the Bay Area, the program plays on KQED, Channel 9, at 9 p.m. PST. Click here to go to the Young@Heart website to watch a preview and check the time of your local listing.