Letter From Our President, Brian Spring
June 17, 2020
RE: COVID-19 Update
To Whom It May Concern,
The words of Charles Dickens have become famous, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” I feel we live these words every day during this COVID crisis. Perhaps it is the war of my generation and wars bring out the heroic qualities we see daily in all our 1500 Danbury Senior Living employees taking care of an equal number of residents.
I am writing today to share my concerns about the lack of direct assistance for the Assisted Living Industry. Let me start by saying, I do not envy our elected officials and their task of providing physical and economic safety to their constituents in a timely and equitable manner during this unique time in our history. There is no playbook for them or for any of us. At the same time, I continue to become increasingly frustrated with the Assisted Living industry’s inability to obtain any real governmental assistance in this fight. In fact, some programs have been clearly detrimental to our business. It feels as though we have fallen through the cracks, with relief measures working against our real fight to protect the health and well-being of our residents and employees.
Challenges before us include…
Unemployment / Stimulus Checks – We have experienced first-hand the disincentive for many individuals to work. A graphic provided by the National Association of Realtors showed the wage gap of state unemployment versus average weekly wages. In Ohio, as in many other states, individuals are paid better to collect unemployment than to be working for wages. Stimulus checks have further hindered our ability to hire workers who do not need to work in the short term to pay their bills.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – The PPP loan program through the SBA has been highly publicized and is a very important pipeline for many businesses. The forgiveness provisions have effectively worked as free grant dollars. Many businesses benefited from this program whose operations were NOT adversely affected by COVID-19 or if they were impacted, the effects were NOT significant enough to cause business owners to suffer an anticipated loss for 2020. I do not fault anyone who applied for and received this benefit, but it troubles me many in our Assisted Living industry did not qualify loan dollars through PPP due to exceeding the employee threshold. Hospitality was given a carve-out if individual locations were below the threshold. Danbury Senior Living was not afforded a similar carve-out even though we are in the business of caring for our seniors’ lives. Net result = ZERO PPP dollars.
Skilled Nursing Relief – Our colleagues in the skilled nursing business, who should also be applauded for their heroic efforts, were earmarked $314 million in Ohio from the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services in late May. Ohio Assisted Living providers received ZERO dollars in federal financial relief!
Loan Deferrals – One bright point has been loan deferrals provided by many of our lenders. The banks have been highly supportive and efficient in providing relief for our cash flow challenges with multiple months of full principal and interest deferrals. In most instances, the deferrals are being added to the balloon at loan maturity. This provides short-term cash-flow relief with the hope that current losses can be mitigated and services maintained. Agency lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have similarly been supportive and efficient in providing payment deferrals; however, those deferrals must be repaid within a nine-month or twelve-month period. This will likely be challenging and not provide sufficient time for recovery.
This letter is to no-one-in-particular and to everyone. Hopefully, through my effort, or those of someone else, it will make it into the hands of a legislator, official, or other party with some creative assistance or solutions.
I believe I know this – The Assisted Living industry provides a highly beneficial service of caring for our senior population while receiving woefully inadequate public assistance for our needs - far from equitable compared to other industries.
I KNOW that I know this – The owners and team members of Danbury Senior Living will continue to love and care for our residents using all resources available to us. We are grateful for the daily opportunity to serve our seniors.
Please, please help me to express these concerns to the appropriate legislators and officials. I welcome any ideas or suggestions and hope all remain safe and healthy.
8230 Pittsburg Ave. NW
North Canton, Ohio 44720
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