Posted on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 at 8:11 pm
Segoe Gardens, an assisted living community near the Hilldale Shopping Center, is displacing all its residents during the holiday season. The senior living complex, run by Independent Living Inc., is in trouble after failing to pay off long term debt. An unknown buyer is pushing 48 vulnerable residents out the door before renovations of the building begin. This has left the City and other non-profits that serve seniors scrambling to help these people find the housing and services they need.
Independent Living failed to engage the City for better options or possible funding before this decision was made. In the letter below, I am urging Independent Living and its board members to work with the City to support residents through this difficult transition and to ensure this never happens again.
Read the full letter below.
December 2, 2020
Independent Living, Inc. (ILI)
Board of Directors
606 North Segoe Road
Madison, WI 53705
I write today to express my profound disappointment with the pending sale of Segoe Gardens and how this transaction occurred. Displacing seniors during a pandemic, in winter and right around the holidays is inhumane and contrary to everything ILI is supposed to stand for.
Neither I nor City staff know the details of the financial burden on this property or on ILI overall. When City staff asked legal counsel, Crystal Abbey, why the City was not contacted prior to entering into this purchase agreement they were told “the City would not have wanted it.” It is hard for me to comprehend how you made that determination without speaking with my office. I cannot make guarantees that the City would have had the financial resources to help you out of this predicament, but there are other valuable reasons to keep the City involved in these type of discussions. This is not our first experience with an unsuccessful housing development or non-profit. The City supported transitions and sales like this in the past and may have been of help in this situation.
ILI also chose not to reach out any of the networks of housing providers, housing advocates, tenant services to collaboratively see how tenants can be supported. ILI was part of the years-long efforts to establish this infrastructure, like Third Sector. To see you not using it is disheartening, as it does not honor the investment and efforts of the people who have been part of this, nor does it present ILI's legacy in a favorable light. People look to non-profit agencies like ILI as trusted stewards of the common good in Madison, Dane County and the State of Wisconsin. This lack of communication betrays the trust and confidence in our non-profit partners.
City staff have been in regular communication with Derek Buckley from Attic Angels. It seems Attic Angels deserves a lot of praise for taking on the relocation obligations for ILI. I was happy to hear the latest report that all but 11 residents have secured other housing. The success in finding alternative housing should not overshadow the fact that some residents, perhaps many, are facing higher housing costs at their new locations than they had been paying. Let us not forget that this group of aging adults survive on fixed incomes. Increased housing costs will place an additional burden on their already stretched budgets and require additional resources for other basic needs. Current pandemic conditions, along with the chronic health conditions many experience, will complicate their ability to secure these needed supports and create additional burdens.
Nor should it diminish the emotional and social toll that this disruptive event has, and will continue to, inflict on this community of older adults. The negative health effects of social isolation is equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Separating this group of neighbors and friends in the bleak winter months during a pandemic as we head in to the holidays shows a lack of understanding and respect for these 43 seniors. It appears that very little consideration has been given to how this process would affect the residents of Segoe Garden Apts.
This decision seems antithetical to the mission of ILI and not in alignment with what I understand the values of the companies represented on this Board to be (i.e. UW Health, Savant Capital, American Family Insurance, Wis. Housing Preservation Corp). How does displacing 40+ seniors fit into the missions of these entities?
Again, I reiterate, I do not understand the dire financial issues this organization or as a Board you are facing to make this decision. I understand that ILI Board Members have been advised by legal counsel to provide no comment on the pending sale of Segoe Gardens, so I hold out little hope that you will respond to this letter. I do hope that in the future you will recognize the partnership between the City and our housing providers and value it as much as I do.
Cc: Carla Andres, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.