SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND)- Seniors are demanding answers after an independent living facility announced it was raising rent over 100% to compensate for inflation and rising costs.

Jacqueline Harmon said when she moved into the Lewis Memorial Christian Village last summer, she thought she had found her forever home.

"I had no intentions of ever moving from here until I passed. But with it going up like this- I can't afford it," Harmon explained.

Just this month, she was notified her rent was jumping 115% from about $1,300 to over $2,900 a month.

"I can understand them increasing in a little bit, even $100 or even more. But then when we got this letter, it doubled- and I think that's an awful lot for seniors," Harmon explained.

She lives in an independent living center, run by the non-profit housing organization Christian Horizons Living.

"My husband was assistant chief of police at the Springfield Police Department. If it wasn't for his pension, I wouldn't even be here today," Harmon said.

The owners pay for maintenance, lawn care and the water and sewer bill for her two-bedroom apartment. They also include a fitness center and pool access in the monthly rent.

"They stopped or lowered their donations to church, they've cut back on their medications already, they've cut back on their food. It's just ridiculous," Kamyra Day, Harmon's daughter, told WAND news.

Day said her mom, and other neighbors, are taking drastic steps to afford the increase. Now, she's worried her mother will have to move out for good.

"All of them are scrambling, trying to find another place to move to- and there are no openings," Day explained.

Harmon's neighbor told WAND News, over the past five years, there have been three to five percent increases in rent. But nothing ever this high.

"It's just like a slap in the face," Harmon said.

Her neighbor, Nancy Seefeldt, said she donated her husband's annuity to the facility to buy a buy and help pay for upgrades. Now, Seefeldt is being priced out of her home.

"I think the bus was about $90,000. My husband and my pictures are on the back- and it breaks my heart to leave it here," Seefeldt explained.

WAND News reached out to Christian Horizons regarding the steep increase in rent. They provided us this statement:

"Following our typical business planning process, which includes a detailed annual financial analysis, Lewis Memorial Christian Village determined that due to dramatic external economic pressures, current monthly rate structures for independent living garden home residences, which in many cases are below general upkeep costs for the residences, are no longer sustainable. The decision was made in light of compounding external forces including: dramatic increases in general operating needs including the support of safety on the campus; ongoing maintenance required for the upkeep of residences and campus infrastructure; soaring inflation rates; and rising associate wage pressures.

The same market forces that are causing dramatically elevated operating costs for businesses across the nation and in Springfield, have forced all U.S. housing providers (senior living and multi-family) to pass on higher rate increases than in years’ past. The decision to raise independent living garden home rates is not taken lightly and was made considering these economic headwinds. While increases vary depending on independent living residence, all rates continue to remain under fair market value and under most other area independent living providers’ price points. In fact, several Springfield-area senior living providers succumbed to economic and staffing pressures last fall, forcing them to close their doors. And we anticipate news of additional closings over coming months.

Lewis Memorial Christian Village understands that any rate increase is impactful. Our team is and will continue to work with independent living garden home residents, connecting them with a variety of options so they can determine the fit that best meets their personal situation – including the partnership of other central Illinois Christian Horizon’s campuses.

It is vital for us to strengthen Lewis Memorial Christian Village’s sustainability so we can continue serving future generations. Our mission is unchanged — we are a people-centered organization dedicated to service for our residents. Despite rate increases, we continue to extend benevolent support for many assisted living and nursing home residents on our campus. This commitment requires responsible financial stewardship."


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