Tamlyn Tomita speaks in support of the Japanese American seniors who are at risk of losing their homes. Photo from Equity in Public Health
By Melissa Young, AsAmNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles — In their continued efforts to save four senior care facilities housing over 300 Japanese seniors, Japanese American community members held a car caravan and rally calling for the State Attorney General to stop the feared eviction of the tenants.
In August, Pacifica filed a proposal with the City of Los Angeles to convert the Sakura ICF into multi-family housing. It’s one of four care centers it bought in 2016 and is the only Japanese bilingual and bicultural intermediate care facility in the U.S.
“How do you feel about that? Kicking out seniors in the worst pandemic in 100 years,” David Monkawa, a member of Save Our Seniors, said at the rally.
The other three centers owned by Pacific are Sakura Gardens, Kei-Ai Los Angeles Healthcare Center and Kei-Ai South Bay Health Care Center. Until today, they were under the protection of an agreement between then State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Pacifica to maintain the same number of Japanese bilingual and cultural services at the facility and same number of beds.
A press release from Save Our Seniors said, “After the expiration of these global legal protections for patients in all 4 facilities, each of the buildings will be vulnerable to renovation, lease, sales or shutdowns.”
Actress Tamilyn Tomita spoke urging Pacifica not to displace the senior citizens in the facilities.
“Please allow our beloved seniors to live out their lives in this home that they know, eat the food that they love and enjoy, interact with people that understand them. These are our parents, our aunties and uncles, our grandparents. These are folks who have built our community so many years ago.”
Katie Horie Addison, whose 93-year-old father resides at Sakura ICF, said, “If Sakura ICF is closed, I will have great difficulty finding a comparable facility. Not just my father, but all the residents would be displaced and would have to be moved to a non-Japanese facility. I have not received any notification or assistance from Pacifica regarding the status of Sakura ICF.”
Dr. Takeshi Matsumoto, who treated senior residents for over 30 years, said that if the plans are approved, Pacifica would evict over 60 residents from the Sakura ICF.
“Most of these old folks are dependent on Medi-Cal to pay for their care. Without Medi-Cal they cannot afford to get the care they need. Most of these elders are primarily Japanese-speaking and dependent on Japanese-speaking caregivers. There are no safety nets for these old folks,” Dr. Matsumoto said.
Chicano activist Carlos Montes said, “For Pacifica to attempt to evict these elders at this stage of age in their lives is a human rights violation. It’s a racist attack against the Japanese American community. We’re here in solidarity to say no to Pacifica, no evictions, stop this development.”
AsAmNews reached out to Pacifica, but the company did not return our call.
The Japanese American Citizens League said in a statement, “Sakura Gardens is emblematic of a growing problem in the Downtown and East LA area and across the nation as ethnic enclaves are being replaced by gentrification.
“Sakura Gardens was founded on the mission to honor our community elders. Pacifica should honor that original mission to serve its residents and ensure their safety throughout the ongoing pandemic.”
A Save Our Seniors petition calling for an extension in the conditions for sale had almost 2,400 signatures at the time of publication. A petition from Koreisha Senior Care & Advocacy opposing the conversion of the Sakura ICF into general use housing had over 5,390 signatures.
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