Supes planLGBT senior legislation
by Matthew S. Bajko
Drawing upon a report finalized Tuesday, the two gay members of the Board of Supervisors are preparing to introduce legislation in the coming months focused on LGBT seniors issues.
Titled "LGBT Aging at the Golden Gate: San Francisco Policy Issues and Recommendations," the document is the work of the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force that has been meeting since the fall of 2012. With its vote March 25 to adopt the report, the task force is now officially disbanded.
"Our problem isn't aging. It is how we are being dealt with in our environment as we age," said Larry Saxxon, who served on the task force.
As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the bulk of the report's recommendations deal with how the city's housing crisis is impacting LGBT seniors. The task force's suggestions run the gamut from building more affordable housing for LGBT seniors and increasing eviction protections for them to providing rental and homeowner assistance and legal services to help them maintain their housing.
Gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who called for the creation of the task force, told the B.A.R. this week that dealing with the housing issues requires more than a "quick fix" and is part of the broader policy debate City Hall is currently engaged in around housing issues.
"It is not a quick fix kind of situation. There is a long-term need for us to focus on our housing crisis," said Wiener, who represents the gay Castro district where evictions of seniors and people living with HIV have been on the rise.
Wiener and gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who also called for the task force's formation, will be calling on the board to hold a hearing in the coming weeks for the task force to formally submit its report to the supervisors.
They are also working with the city attorney's office to craft legislation to press for two of the task force's suggestions. The measure will require all city departments and agencies contracted by the city to work with seniors to collect data on how many of their clients identify as LGBT as well as require staff at those agencies and departments to have culturally competent training about LGBT senior issues.
"We are hoping to do the legislation within a few months," said Wiener.
Campos did not respond to a request for comment by press time Wednesday.
Other areas the supervisors plan to address more immediately include ensuring senior facilities in the city are LGBT friendly and providing LGBT seniors with economic empowerment tools such as job training. They are also likely to recommend that either the board or the city's Department of Aging and Adult Services form an implementation panel to ensure the task force's report is not shelved and forgotten about.
"We will need to do more work in the future. This is not the end," said attorney Bill Ambrunn, who chaired the task force. "It is the end of the task force, but we will need to do more work."
A copy of the final report can be downloaded at http://sf-hrc.org/lgbt-aging-policy-task-force-lgbtaptf.