Concerns about minimum wage increase: Assisted living homes fear they will have to close

- While many workers in Arizona are excited about the minimum wage increase, those who own assisted living facilities are concerned about what it could mean for the future.

There are over 1,700 assisted living homes across Arizona. Each housing about five to ten residents. Many of the owners already struggle to run their businesses on limited government funding, and with a minimum wage hike, it will only get worse.

Owners of assisted living homes gathered in Chandler on Tuesday night, concerned about how Prop 206 will impact their businesses.

"I would love be able to pay the caregivers $100 an hour. I really would. This genie is out of the bottle," said a man at the meeting.

Christine Ellis used to own 10 assisted living homes. She says without enough government funding, she had to sell them and now, many will follow suit.

"Per client, per day, we get about $1.25 to $2.00 a day to take care of someone for 24 hours a day. Now you're asking us to pay someone who works for us.. we were already working in the minus kind of way.. now you're asking us to do it at $10.00 an hour," she said.

Homeowners aren't the only ones concerned about the wage hike. Elderly residents and their families worry about who will care for them.

"That's what I keep hearing. Are you going to raise the rates? How much is it going to go up? How is this going to affect us? Am I going to have to find another state run home for my mom?" said Ana McCann, who owns an assisted living home in Mesa.

"The alternative is, particularly for the people who are low income is probably going to be a giant state run facility to take care of them if we close our doors," said Susan Archer, legislative liaison for the Arizona Coalition for Assisted Living.

The homeowner community has reached out to Governor Doug Ducey, Senator John McCain and the Attorney General. They hope to draft new legislation supporting homes, caregivers and the residents.

"Eventually, these caregivers.. they are going to go somewhere else and then we're ending up.. no care givers at all and then that's where the care homeowners are going to start shutting down," said Nhor Latinovich, who owns a caregiver school in Mesa.

The homeowners I spoke with say that "Baby Boomer" residents will be hit the hardest and encourage everyone to reach out to lawmakers.

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