Retirees hit for $150, not $600 per month

Residents of Sycamore Glen retirement community won something of a victory last week, as they were told that the rent for their apartments would be going up $150 instead of the $600 proposed hike that caused many of the complex’s elderly residents to revolt against the facility’s parent company, Horizon West HealthCare, of Rocklin.

The smaller raise was good news to former building administrator Eileen Ritter, who was fired by Horizon West after rallying residents to fight the $600 increase. The company blamed the entire episode on Ritter, stating in a press release that she had foisted the rental increase on the residents on her own authority, a position contradicted by internal e-mails that Ritter made public after she was placed on administrative leave.

“It’s better. [But] a lot of them are still moving,” Ritter said. “It’s 150 bucks, and a lot of my people just can’t afford it.”

Ritter said she was mulling legal action over her dismissal. When she was fired, Horizon West asked her to sign a contract that barred her from talking publicly about any aspect of her 19-year employment with the company. Signing the contract would have netted her a severance bonus of $13,600, but, she said, “I can’t be bought.” Although she keeps in touch with many residents by phone, Ritter, along with her husband and children, are now barred from visiting Sycamore Glen.

At a meeting last week at the facility, residents were told the raise would be between 3 and 5 percent. But on Friday, it was announced the raise would be $150, or about a 12 percent hike.

The new manager at Sycamore Oak, Brian Vittitoe, said he couldn’t say yet whether residents could expect another raise in the future but added that he was looking into the matter and could know as early as next week.