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Assisted living center closing, highlighting need for staff

November 28, 2021 GMT

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — An assisted living center is closing in Traverse City, highlighting the demand for workers in the field and the scramble to find new housing for people suddenly facing uncertainty.

Northern Star Assisted Living, a 65-bed facility, might be turned into a hotel, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

The owners said having enough people to work has been a challenge.

“It’s unfortunate that the need is there, but it’s staffing for the need, getting people available to work, is the most difficult part,” said Ron Clous, a partner and member of the Grand Traverse County Commission.

Northern Star administrator Amber Phillips said staff were finding new housing for 46 residents, which was harder than finding new jobs.

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“I got a lot of calls from people wanting to hire our staff,” Phillips said. “They interviewed them right here in the building and everyone who wants them has jobs.”

She said she’s “really afraid” there won’t be enough places to take care of the vulnerable and elderly in the region in the years ahead.

Most Northern Star residents have moved to Cadillac, Lake City, Kalkaska or out of state, Phillips said.

Ross Cox, 33, is staying in the Traverse City area.

“It’s a hard change, a hard transition,” said Cox, who uses a walker and wheelchair. “People already down on their luck now have such a short time to try to find somewhere to go, somewhere to move their entire life.”