Couple turns dream house into assisted living home

December 31, 2009 6:38:09 PM PST
A successful East Bay couple whose hopes were dashed by the "Great Recession" have found a way to reinvent themselves.

A year ago, Jill Bragg was a highly-paid government administrator with a master's degree. Her husband Tom was a biochemist with a Ph.D. Both made well over six figures. The Braggs were well-off, if not wealthy.

Things were so good, they decided to build a 5,000-square foot dream house on a secluded lot in Walnut Creek.

"When we first started the house, it was projected the value was at $2.5 million," said Tom. "And then the housing market crashed." And then, Jill and Tom lost their jobs.

Now, things are so bad, Jill has had to visit local food giveaways to make sure their family has enough to eat. "How humbling that truly was," said Jill with tears in her eyes. "To think that I would ever, ever be in line to get some free assistance, to get food for your family."

As for the dream house, the Braggs cannot afford to move into it anymore. They thought about selling it, but with declines in the real estate market, they would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rather than give it back to the bank, the couple came up with a new dream.

"We thought, well, this house could be a perfect home for assisted living," said Jill.

Now, the house is being remodeled before it was even finished. The sitting area off the master bedroom will be a room for a potential resident. The gourmet kitchen will be a place where Jill will cook for the half-dozen seniors the Braggs hope will live in the new home soon. "We had to essentially remake everything that we knew, and our whole lifestyle completely changed," said Jill.

"I guess life is not necessarily getting everything you want, but being able to deal with what you have," said Tom.

Like it has with the house, the recession has forced the Braggs to undergo a complete transformation.

The Braggs hope to open Diablo Assisted Living in the next few weeks. The address is 15 Glen Creek Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94595. For more information, visit or call (925) 944-5363.