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North Dakota retirement home gives residents 6 weeks to find new home following closure announcement

Dakota Estates in Lidgerwood says the debt has been piling up for years, but just informed residents this week it will close during the holiday season.

Dakota Estates Retirement Center
The Dakota Estates Retirement Center in Lidgerwood will close for good on Dec. 31.
Matt Henson / WDAY
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LIDGERWOOD, N.D. — As the holidays near, about two dozen residents at a Richland County retirement home are getting kicked out of their home.

It has created anger in the community as families want to know why they were blindsided by a bankruptcy and where the money has gone.

Twenty residents at the Dakota Estates Retirement Center in Lidgerwood have been given six weeks to find a new home.

"I don't know where I'll go," said Dakota Estates resident Lorraine Fuka.

Dakota Estates is on the brink of bankruptcy and will close on Dec. 31.

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For Fuka, that means leaving "paradise."

"We don't cook, we don't clean, we don't do anything except relax," she said.

The board who oversees the retirement home and ultimately made the decision has only served a few months.

Board member Jim Holmly said he has learned the writing has actually been on the wall for about six years, but COVID relief money provided a temporary bandage. He said part of the reason the retirement home is broke is because the rent is too low. Only half of the home is filled because the facility is old and outdated.

"The silence is really unnerving," said Sophia Zaft, Fuka's granddaughter.

Volunteer board members have been running the home since last year when the administrator left and there was no money to hire a new one.

Last month, the 19 current employees were told there may not be enough money to pay them.

There have been accusations the former longtime administrator misused funds, but Holmly said that would be just "speculation."

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Because Dakota Estates has accepted money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an audit is likely.

That may be tough, however. Many of the financial records are gone and a computer has been scrubbed.

"We are so far in the hole, we can't even do anything about it now," Zaft said.

The Richland County Veterans Service Office is working with seven vets who live at Dakota Estates. Representatives from retirement homes in Wahpeton and Hankinson have started working with families to rehouse residents.

"I thought I would die in Lidgerwood, not Fargo," Fuka said with a laugh.

The 98-year-old has lived in Lidgerwood for nearly her whole life.

"I am hoping some miracle that they can keep it open for us," Fuka said.

Lidgerwood Mayor Dale Krause said the city will do whatever it can in its power to try and save the retirement center.

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A developer has been looking at the site to potentially build apartments.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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