KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WATE) – The only nonprofit assisted-living facility in Knoxville  that offers CHOICES in Knox County is closing its doors, forcing 45 senior citizens to search for affordable housing elsewhere.

Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service announced Jan. 6 that the board voted Dec. 16 to close the Renaissance Terrace Assisted Living on Broadway and Bearden Place near downtown Knoxville. Residents and their families have been informed of the closing, which is set for April 15.

““We are losing $30,000 a month,” SCHAS Chief Executive Officer Tim Howell said. “The board and I are saddened to take this step, but the current financial situation is unsustainable. We are going to do everything in our power to help the residents find care at other facilities. It is sad because Renaissance Terrace is a high-quality facility and a very affordable option for our community’s seniors.”

SCHAS said they they will help residents identify other care options in the area. Meanwhile, TennCare responded to the closing.

“TennCare is deeply disappointed in the decision of Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service to close Renaissance Terrace. Most importantly, we are sorry for the disruption that will result for those living at Renaissance and their families. We will work with the TennCare health plans to ensure a seamless transition for CHOICES members living at Renaissance Terrace,” said Amy Lawrence, spokeswoman for TennCare.

Renaissance Terrace has served the Knoxville area for 13 years, specializing in offering affordable care in a modern assisted living facility. As a nonprofit, the SCHAS facility said it has been a less expensive option for seniors than other long-term care centers.

According to Howell, the facility has experienced sharply increased costs for labor, supplies such as food for residents, and liability insurance mainly because of the pandemic and record inflation. Staffing numbers have dwindled despite recent salary increases to attract and retain employees.

TennCare’s CHOICES program had been paying $1,100 per month for senior care, which the facility operators said is considerably less than the monthly cost of serving a resident, even though Renaissance Terrace is less expensive than private assisted living facilities and typical nursing home care. 

SCHAS asked TennCare CHOICES to increase reimbursement rates. After years of no increases, the state finally raised the funding assistance to $1,305 per month, still less than the cost of care, but with restrictions on how the money could be spent. Facing a crisis, SCHAS asked the agency to provide flexibility to spend the funds where needed the most. TennCare CHOICES refused.

As of this date, the TennCare CHOICES program still has not released the $137,500,000 in new funds to home and community-based services (HCBS), such as Renaissance Terrace, from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Employees are being asked to stay on until the April closing and are being offered severance packages.

EDITORS NOTE: This article has been updated to clarify that Renaissance Terrace Assisted Living is the only nonprofit assisted-living facility in Knoxville that offeres TennCare’s CHOICES program.