A difficult decision was reached by the Golden West Board of Directors to close The Mezzanine Assisted Living portion of the senior living community after 34 years of providing affordable housing and assisted living services to Boulder area seniors. Due to low occupancy levels and financial pressure, the Mezzanine closure is effective March 4, 2023. This decision does not affect The Towers Independent living community which will remain open.

Residents, families, and staff were notified of the closure on January 4 and every effort is being made to assist them through the transition. Residents received a packet of information with resources to aid them in their search for a new home and the Golden West leadership team will be on hand to help them as needed. During the transition period, Golden West will continue to provide the same level of care and services to the residents in assisted living. They will also provide information and support to the staff members with bonuses offered to everyone who chooses to continue working as long as needed, severance pay, and assistance in finding a new position.

The Mezzanine at Golden West was originally one of four pilot projects financed by the Colorado Housing Finance Authority to provide assisted living to low-income seniors in Colorado in 1988. In 1995, Golden West was certified by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to accept Medicaid payment for services to eligible seniors.

For years, The Mezzanine at Golden West served a mix of private pay and Medicaid-only residents because Medicaid reimbursement alone is not enough to cover the operational cost of assisted living care. Relying on private pay to help offset low Medicaid reimbursement is common for providers that serve Medicaid residents. The Mezzanine assisted living community operated on a very thin margin, supported by those private-pay residents and the financial strength of The Towers Independent Living community.

Several recent events have impacted occupancy in the senior community. The pandemic began at the same time as Golden West was entering a major renovation project which negatively impacted occupancy in both the Independent Living community, The Towers and The Mezzanine assisted living. While The Tower’s occupancy has returned to expected levels, The Mezzanine has not and is operating well below budget.

“Sadly, it is clear to us that we will not be able to meet the obligations to our assisted living residents and staff in the current financial environment,” said Interim CEO John Torres.

Competition for private pay assisted living has increased with offerings that have new, larger apartments and this had made it more difficult for The Mezzanine to compete and add private pay residents. Inflation and only small increases to the Medicaid reimbursement rate further strained the budget necessary to continue operating the assisted living community. Additionally, the cost of staffing, the largest expense for assisted living, has risen dramatically over the past several years, increasing the gap between what Golden West receives from Medicaid and what is needed to recruit and train staff.

“We believe strongly that we have an obligation to the health and wellness of our staff and that includes being able to pay a livable wage,” said Torres. “This has been a painful and difficult decision and we are committed to helping our residents and staff through this transition in every way possible.”

Golden West will continue to focus on its mission of 57 years to provide affordable housing for seniors in Boulder and the Golden West Board of Directors will explore options to repurpose the Mezzanine property for future service to area seniors.

“We understand that this is upsetting news. It was a very difficult decision that was not made lightly.  Ultimately, the Board of Directors chose to move forward with our Mission in a way that is financially sustainable ensuring that we will continue to be of service to seniors for years to come.  That doesn’t change the fact that we are disrupting the lives of Mezzanine residents and staff members and for that, I apologize,” said Interim CEO John Torres.