Local News

Bank Foreclosure Forces Elderly Residents To Leave Assisted-Living Home

Posted November 26, 2002

— A failed business decision in Chatham County has cost some elderly residents their homes. Money problems forced the shutdown of an independent living apartment building. The closing displaces senior residents just days before the holidays.

After 2-1/2 happy years at Somerset House in Pittsboro, Geraldine Shuskey is packing up everthing she owns.

"You know, it's just awful hard to leave," she said. "I thought I was going to be here for life. I loved it."

At 80 years old, Shuskey is one of 11 elderly residents uprooted from the independent living apartments. The owner, Diversified Senior Services, could never fill all 30 units to make a profit, so First Charter Bank foreclosed.

Residents were given 40 days to clear out. Diane Gatling was forced to move her 89-year-old mother, Rose.

"I've never been so sad about anything in my life as watching all of these people who have become friends living with each other in this kind of an environment...all separated," Gatling said.

Under the law, the bank had every right to foreclose on the property and evict the residents. But family members say not nearly enough was done to prevent the disruption of people's lives.

However, William Benton, owner of Diversified Senior Services, disagrees. In a phone interview with WRAL, he said, "We lost close to a million dollars trying to keep Somerset open. I think the lender worked with us as best they could. It's not a good thing. The smartest thing we could have done was never build Somerset."

"The bank cares about the money. If the bank cared about the people, they would have never closed this facility," Gatling said.

Benton said he offered to manage the facility for free until a buyer could be found, but he said First Charter declined. Bank officials did not respond to WRAL's requests for comment. A home in Kinston, run by Diversified Senior Services, also faces foreclosure.

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