In the last few weeks, there has been news that the property located at 22325 Barton Road that housed the senior residents of Vista Blue Mountain has been sold. According to The Registry, a publication for real estate news for all Southern California, the property sold for $12 million, about $136,363 per unit.
The staff, residents, and families, of residents were informed that they had 60 days to depart from the premises to make way for what’s coming in.
Last Wednesday, Mayor Bill Hussey, along with City Manager Konrad Bolowich, sat down with the buyers of the property to get some answers to the questions that have been weighing heavily on the minds of those within the community.
The facility, once housing for Senior Assisted Living, will be used as an Adult Residential Facility, another form of assisted living, commonly known as an ARF.
“Adult Residential Facilities (ARFs) are non–medical facilities that provide room, meals, housekeeping, supervision, storage and distribution of medication, and. personal care assistance with basic activities like hygiene, dressing, eating, bathing and transferring.”
Betty Dominici, CEO and Co-Founder of Alamo Health Management, opened with, “We are an ARF, and we help people with disabilities and a little bit of mental health issues that they have. We help Veterans, a lot of our clients are veterans. We help those who need help just to get back on their feet. Our clients will come to us, and we will assess them. A lot of them will go to a city college, we will help them find a job, we help them make sure they have a social security number; we make sure they know how to dress for an interview… It's really learning life skills. If you think of somebody that maybe was unhoused or maybe was in a system because of a mental illness, but they are ready now to live a productive life, they almost need a program to make sure they have those life skills again, and that's really what's missing in our society. This is the reason why the state and the counties really support us because there are no such programs out there right now.”
Betty continued, “Let’s say you're in a hospital, your medications are getting regulated, and then your kind of thrown out on the street or you get to go home with no supportive services, and that's why you have many people that are unhoused, and that's what we do. As I said, a lot of our clients are VA clients that really don't have anywhere else to go. A lot of people that maybe were in a system haven't been to a job interview in five, six, ten years. They must relearn that. They must relearn hygiene, how to present themselves, and those are all the things that we teach in our program. And we've been very successful where we are. Our discharge is amazing. Our clients go home with family, they go to their own apartments, we make sure they go back to the county of origin… We are just really excited about bringing this to this area because it’s a program that really needed and I think people don’t see it for what it is.”
Betty said securely, “We don't have armed security, this is an open community. People can come and go as they please. These are not criminals or anything like that... When it comes to sexual offenders’ rumors, we don’t take those. We are very strict when it comes to certain felonies… These are just people that kind of have been forgotten about.”
“Our facilities provide housing, treatment, supervision, and personal care assistance for those with mental illness such as a traumatic brain injury, autism, down syndrome, and conditions falling within the developmental disability spectrum,” said Andrew Dominici, Vice President of Communication Relations. “It’s our purpose to serve those who need help in life by providing them with supportive services and educational programs.”
Mayor Hussey brought forward the biggest community concern is for the senior residents that are currently living in Vista Blue Mountain and how they will be managed during the move out. One resident, Diane Galvez-Parker who has family within Vista Blue Mountain said, “Everyone needs to have a place to stay. But I just feel like our elderly are our most vulnerable populations, these are the people that planned on living the rest of their days there.”
Betty informed Mayor Hussey and City Manager Konrad, “We already have 30 residents, out of 50, that found new senior living communities and at better rates. One resident saving almost $1,600 per month… I would say probably 80% of the clients are going there [Villa De Anza] because the prices are good and the community is beautiful, with lovely staff, and the residents were really impressed with it.”
Betty said, “It’s unfortunate, but we're not the only assisted living that has to close. There is a lot of competition, but we are going to make sure that 100% of the residents that are left are taken care of and have a home. They're not just going to be evicted to the street like people think.”
Betty continued, “There are other senior communities in the in the area that are reaching out to us and saying, ‘hey, we want to help these residents, we're willing to do whatever we can to make sure that they have a great place to call home.’ I know they're leaving the town, but Villa de Anza has an amazing staff and I know that community personally. I know the new operator. It's a family-owned business, I know they're going to be very well taken care of and at a really good rate. But most importantly, the care is amazing there, I was really happy that a lot of the residents were moving there.”
Mayor Hussey raised more community concern about the chance of the facility being used as a halfway house [transitional house or drug abuse recovery center] or sober living facility and asked how this facility compares.
Andrew replied emphatically, “No… a halfway house is one, not staffed 24 hours a day. It's a house that is designated for people who are coming off either paroles or probations or being released from different kinds of forensic environments, when that's a very small population that we would never see... Halfway houses do not offer the support of their social workers, living skills, things like that. We're more likely to see people who are out of like a SNF [skilled nursing facility] rehab from brain injury / stroke than we would ever be to see out of any kind of halfway house.”
Andrew continued, “We provide a 24/7 staff that includes medical care, psychology care, and social work available to our communities as part of our program.”
Betty responded with, “Let me explain this very simply. Halfway houses are for people that are straight out of jail, they have nowhere to go, or as part of their probation, they must spend six months to a year in a halfway house. We're nothing like that. We can't say we're a medical environment. We provide medications, we provide social work, we have psychiatrists on standby, we have 24-hour staffing, mental health workers, and dietary. I've never owned a halfway house, but just from what I know from it, we are nothing like a halfway house and there's no way you would compare us.”
Betty continued, “Sober living facilities are for those who go in for substance abuse and they go through a whole treatment, we are not licensed for that. We're not a substance abuse community; we are not able to do any of that. Can I guarantee you that somebody doesn't come into my community, doesn't have substance abuse? No, but we're going to send them to AA, we’re going to provide them with some programming in our building. If it’s a severe problem, they must be transferred to another community that is licensed to do substance recovery.”
When asked about any modifications to the building and staff, Betty answered, “Only thing that’s going to change is that we’re going to have a 24/7 security guard, there’s going to be a gate going up in front and we’re going to have outside cameras. Otherwise, the staffing will pretty much stay the same.”
The community concern as to why there was no announcement to the change can be echoed in more of Galvez-Parker’s concern as she said, “I guess I am just at a crossroads because in one part I am frustrated with how they did it. And I also know that the mentally disabled are growing in numbers and finally the government is paying attention. So yes, it’s needed but it was the way it happened.”
City Manager Bolowich answered with, “From the City’s perspective, this is a real estate deal. You’re buying a house, you’re selling it. The big picture is that it stays within the parameters with what its zoned for and what its licensed for.”
Betty responded to the concern with, “[Blake Parson] decided to sell the building to us. He is still the owner of the business, not the property. The property already has been transferred to us, but he has to empty the building and then turn it over to us completely empty. That's what's happening right now… We’re co-licensing with Parson. We were not interested in senior living. It’s really, really hard financially, due to COVID. There are just not enough residents.”
When asked why the choice of Grand Terrace for the location of their facility Betty responded with, “I knew [Parson] was going to be closing it either way, and I didn’t want to leave. I love this town. This town has been very good to us and the residents… We were really excited to make sure that the city is still getting the benefits of the building, we could retain some employees and continue that employment, but also help the people in the area. That’s what’s really important.”
Andrew responded with, “I lived here in the Inland Empire, I loved living here. I can’t think of a better place to do this than San Bernardino County, Grand Terrace in particular. Me being on the resident side, this is a place where these people who are reintegrating into our society, they’re going to build relationships here, they are going to know these people, they’re going to have this community that supports them.”
Betty said adamantly, “I'm a nurse and that's really what I am. I've been in this industry for 30 years. Besides everything else, I would never purchase a business and throw people out on the street without anything... We are going to make sure that 100% of the residents that are left are taken care of and have a home… We are a licensed community, and we want to be respectful of our neighbors.”