Michael Costa

Michael Costa

By Michael Costa
Finance Committee, Emeritus

In late March the LGBT Aging Policy Taskforce made final recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for policies and programs addressing issues facing LGBT Seniors in San Francisco. We had two major goals as a Taskforce: recommendations had to address the most important issues facing the aging LGBT community, and they needed to help LGBT Seniors “age in community” –  remain in their home and outside institutional settings as long as possible.

The Taskforce relied on previous studies, informal interviews with diverse stakeholders, and a major original study sponsored by the Taskforce, to generate a broadbased up to the minute pulse of the aging LGBT community in San Francisco – a great way to produce actionable, practical, and useful recommendations.

Supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener, who originally sponsored the Taskforce along with then Supervisor Christina Olague, held a hearing in early April to hear from Taskforce members and the public, and to outline the next steps to implement Taskforce recommendations. Toward that end, Supervisor Wiener is currently working with the city attorney to draft ordinances that provide for:
Mandatory data collection on gender identity and sexual orientation for all city departments and contractors whenever other demographic data is already collected. Disclosure would be voluntary.
Enhancing “Cultural Competency” by:
Requiring training  regarding LGBT culture for all city departments and city contractors interacting with LGBT seniors, adding compliance with this training to the evaluation process by which contracts are awarded, as well as publishing a list of non-complying contractors;
Having the Dept. of Human Resources create new training materials and propose an approach to implement the new training requirement, with the assistance of both SFHRC and DAAS;
Eliminating bias in Senior Care Facilities through legal prohibition, increased Ombudsman staffing, and creation of materials that can be used for training purposes.

Supervisor Campos is currently working on legislation that addresses the 800 pound gorilla affecting every San Franciscan – affordable housing – that will include many of the following Taskforce recommendations:
Eviction prevention protections be improved through a combination of: rental and homeowner assistance, legal services, and increased restrictions on evictions where possible
Increased availability of/access to affordable housing be achieved by prioritizing housing developments targeting LGBT seniors, as well as including LGBT seniors in planning processes and LGBT targeted housing counseling and assistance programs;
Improving conditions in apartments and Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units by increasing Building Dept inspections and enforcement; and
Addressing the treatment of LGBT Seniors in city shelters through training shelter staff and providing LGBT targeted shelter services.

Some of the most complex and costly of the Taskforce recommendations are in the area of Health and Social Services, and will need further planning – and funding – to implement. These include:
Development and implementation of LGBT senior case management and peer specialist programs to aid in the coordination and provision of care;
Expanding access to benefits and advocacy programs by leveraging existing referral and enrollment assistance programs aimed at the general population;
Development and implementation of LGBT senior peer counseling and support programs addressing emotional, behavioral, and social isolation challenges facing LGBT Seniors;
Creation of an LGBT targeted education/awareness program related to Alzheimer’s and dementia care;
Development and implementation of financial literacy and life planning support programs.

More information on the Taskforce and its recommendations, please visit the website. Also available at that site is the Taskforce sponsored study and supporting documentation, which together provide a great source of information on the aging LGBT  population in San Francisco.

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