Mesa assisted-living center issues eviction notice to residents

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MESA, Ariz. -- More than a dozen special needs residents are only days away from being evicted from the Greenfields Assisted Living Community in Mesa.

Rather than renovate the building to bring it up to code, the company is forcing those who can't self-evacuate to leave.
   
It's a harsh reality for Mike Cummings. His apartment at the Greenfields symbolizes his independence.

"Here, like I said, I've got everything I want and need," Cummings said.

But a few weeks ago, Cummings got a letter stating he has 30 days to get out. He was shocked.

"I've been here for eight years. eight years almost, you know, and I've been perfectly safe and then they want to do this?" he said.

Greenfields is evicting residents who aren't very mobile because the Mesa Fire Department discovered the building isn't properly zoned for people who need mechanical lifts.

That decision to evict rather than make necessary renovations to meet the zoning requirements has caught everyone off guard.

"They could have given us a little more time," Cummings said.

"I don't know where the compassion is with this company, I don't know," said Cummings aunt, Marilyn Millett.

Mesa's fire marshal, Rich Kochanski, is frustrated Cummings and his family are now in this situation given the building's history.

"We have had issues back dating back to almost 1994 with the property, not necessarily the same management group, but yeah, it has been a problem there," Kochanski said.

Alan Oppenheim supervises the licensing division at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

"Unless the department is made aware of any of those issues, then the department would not go out and investigate," Oppenheim said.

He said his records show the first time the Health Department was made aware of possible zoning violations was a few months ago even though it has licensed the facility for 17 years. Every time their license came up for renewal.

"We don't check back on the renewal applications because we assume that those are still in compliance," Oppenheim said.

"I find it a little hard to believe that they would not know the condition or the zoning of the building when they give them a license to operate," Kochanski said.

If anyone knows the condition of the building, it's the executive director. But when our producer asked Chrissy Hall for an interview, she told us, "I have forwarded your information to my superiors. So they might contact you, they might not. But I have sent it up."

While Cummings and his family begin searching for a new place to call home, they can't help but feel cheated.

"The ultimate goal is he could stay there, that there would be a change of heart, there would be a little bit more compassion towards these people, but I guess that's asking too much," Millett said.

Under Arizona state law, the Greenfields Assisted Living Community has the right to request residents leave within 30 days. However, both the fire marshal and the health department said it's very rare for a company to exercise that right.

The 30-day deadline expires on Feb. 23.