In August 2021, over 80 residents, mostly Japanese American and Japanese women in their 80s and 90s, were evicted from the Pacifica Companies-owned Sakura Intermediate Care Facility (ICF), to make way for high-rental rate apartments and a parking lot. This was the only facility of its kind in the entire U.S. that was providing dedicated bilingual and bi-cultural care for Japanese American and Japanese seniors. In addition, during the course of the pandemic, Kei-Ai Los Angeles in Lincoln Heights earned the title, “deadliest skilled nursing facility west of the Mississippi” for their poor handling of COVID-19 resulting in the largest percentage of COVID-19 resident deaths.
The Japanese American community lost its prized jewel institution, the Keiro Nursing and Retirement Homes in 2016, via a sale to Pacifica Companies, brokered by then CA Attorney General, Kamala Harris. The establishment of the original Keiro facilities were a major achievement by bold Nisei who created a set of properties to directly counteract fundamental inequalities of the U.S. healthcare system that continue to this day. Japanese Americans have the highest percentage of elderly of any Asian American demographic in the U.S., and now bear the burden of privatized takeover and decimation of appropriate senior care by an international developer.
Meanwhile, the non-profit who took control of over $90 Million in community donations to support the original facilities, continues to be unaccountable to the donors and members of their executive board collect six-figure salaries with very little public oversight.
Stories from family members of Sakura ICF and Kei-Ai Los Angeles were shared with the audience, explaining the stresses resulting from the closure of the ICF and the mishandling of COVID-19 at Kei-Ai Los Angeles.
The Town Hall also heard reports of Save Our Seniors Network meetings with the CA Attorney General’s office. These meetings have attempted to find ways to mitigate the negative results of the sale of the facilities and Keiro non-profit’s abandonment of the senior residents, with next to none of the community donations going to actual care for the seniors.
Watch a full video of the event, which took place at Rissho Kosei-Kai Buddhist Church in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles:
Please see the open letter to Keiro non-profit published by Save Our Seniors Network in the Rafu Shimpo: https://saveourseniors.network/calling-on-keiro-nonprofit-to-reinvest-in-new-senior-facilities/