Twelve Oaks lodge

Norma Bowman, one of the residents at Twelve Oaks in La Crescenta who is forced to leave, feeds one of the local squirrels on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer / August 25, 2013)

Fifty seniors will lose their homes at an assisted living facility in La Crescenta that is set to close its doors in two months so the property can be sold.

All the residents of Twelve Oaks Lodge — which has operated as an elder-care facility on a woodsy 4.5-acre campus for nearly 80 years — must move out before the facility closes on Nov. 1, according to a letter distributed to residents on Friday and Monday.

An official from the nonprofit that owns the facility said it decided to sell because it was neither financially viable to keep it running in its current state nor feasible to expand.

"We've been running that property on very thin margins," said Dan Hutson, vice president of communications and marketing for the nonprofit, which is called the be.group. "We've had to subsidize it and that hurts our other communities."

Current residents expressed frustration and dismay at the decision.

"I was horrified, I was appalled, I was shocked," said Bonnie Cantrell, a 72-year-old who has lived at Twelve Oaks Lodge for five years. "I thought I was going to be here for the rest of my life."

Several residents at Twelve Oaks—some who have been there for years, others months — said they expected to live out their years at the La Crescenta facility nestled beneath the foothills.

Norma Bowman, a 92-year-old who is known for feeding peanuts to the squirrels that gather on the property, said her neighbors are nervously talking about what's going to happen to them.

Bowman and Cantrell said their families are helping them find new locations, but others don't have family to guide them through the relocation process.

"I just don't know what they're going to do," Bowman said.

The company, formerly known as Southern California Presbyterian Homes, operates about 30 affordable housing and assisted-living properties throughout the state.

Hutson said be.group is under contract to sell the property at 2820 Sycamore Ave. to an undisclosed buyer, who would likely convert the property into single-family homes.

City spokesman Tom Lorenz said Glendale officials have not received any permit applications for new projects at the property.

Some residents said they were upset that be.group didn't host a community meeting to talk to them about the changes and is only giving them two months to relocate, a requirement under state law.

"What am I going to do? Sixty days is not sufficient time to get relocated, being a senior citizen looking to room and board," said 89-year-old John Neilan, who pays $4,250 a month for a small cottage.

Hutson said be.group has spots open at locations in Duarte, Glendale and Bradbury and may cover relocation expenses for some residents who move to their other properties.

Hutson said some members of the Twelve Oaks staff will continue working for the company at other be.group properties.

A philanthropist turned Twelve Oaks into an elder-care facility in the 1930s, but it was later owned by the National Charity League, a nonprofit that organizes community service work for mother-daughter teams. Be.group became the operator in 2002 and purchased Twelve Oaks about a year later, Hutson said.

The Glendale chapter of the National Charity League has been deeply invested in Twelve Oaks for decades and volunteers still visit seniors, host puppy parties, luncheons and other events.

"It's going to leave a huge hole in all of our hearts," said Janet Lazier, spokeswoman for the chapter. "I don't think any of us ever imagined having to say goodbye to Twelve Oaks."

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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