One of the state's largest assisted living facilities for Medicaid recipients is shutting its doors, leaving hundreds of elderly and disabled residents scrambling to find a place to live.
Westchester Plaza, which has long towered over the Medical District skyline near I-30 & 8th Avenue, will "cease operations" August 10, according to a notice residents received this week.
"They say they'll turn the lights off and everything. There are people in their 90's that have been there a long time," says Barbara Reed, who moved in just a few months ago.
She says tenants were summoned to a meeting in the cafeteria on Monday and told they would have to find other places to live. While staff has been helpful in providing resources and suggestions, Reed says the time crunch isn't what anyone expected.
"It's sad because, actually, no one has no place place to go," said Reed.
In news release Tuesday afternoon, Westchester said it had housed and helped more than 4,000 people since launching nearly 20 years ago.
A spokeswoman said the status of the property is "unknown." It isn't clear if it was recently sold, or if a redevelopment is being planned.
Paul Paine, president of Near Southside Inc., said a deal to redevelop the five-acre site a few years ago by a California investment venture ultimately fell apart.
While word of that project leaked out quickly, Paine says he hasn't heard a peep about what might happen this time around. But he isn't surprised something else could be in the works.
"With all of the growth in this area, when you have an older building that maybe is in disrepair, an opportunity, it doesn't surprise me, no," Paine said.
Indeed, just a couple of blocks away, hundreds of apartments are being erected near Rosedale and 8th.
Cooks Children's Medical Center, Harris Methodist Hospital, and other medical officers directly border the same area.
According to state records, Westchester was licensed for 275 residents, making it one of the state's biggest Medicaid recipient housing options.
Although mum on what is coming next, Westchester operators did indicate why they're closing down, saying in the press release that "...the number of Medicaid-assisted living providers in Texas has steadily declined due to low reimbursement rates, changes in process management of the Medicaid Waiver program, and expansion of alternative entitlement programs. The size and age of Westchester Plaza posed unique challenges amidst a changing regulatory environment."