LGBT Aging Panel Zeroes in on Housing
A San Francisco panel reviewing LGBT aging issues has zeroed in on housing as the number one concern in its report it is preparing to send to city leaders at the end of March.
According to a draft version of the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force’s 78-page report it shared with the Bay Area Reporter , the volunteer body has concluded that the number one problem LGBT older adults are dealing with in the city is ensuring they have stable housing.
The task force has concluded that LGBT seniors "are especially vulnerable to eviction" and is calling on the city to increase eviction protections for them. It is recommending the city provide rental and homeowner assistance, legal services, and increased restrictions on evictions as a way to deal with the issue.
"The number one goal is for people to stay and age in San Francisco," said task force member Ashley McCumber, a gay man who is executive director of Meals on Wheels of San Francisco Inc. "Also, any recommendations we make right now will be helpful to all seniors."
The draft report calls on the city to explore the legality of restricting seniors from evictions and to require landlords to accept rental assistance that a senior receives. One idea calls for the Department of Public Health to create a fund that would help LGBT seniors with first month’s rent, security deposit, and to meet minimum income requirements to qualify for affordable housing.
Another proposal asks the Mayor’s Office of Housing to provide grants to LGBT senior homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes. The task force would also like to see the office offer tenants rights education and advocacy for LGBT seniors.
The task force is also set to lend its support to state efforts to repeal the Ellis Act, which allows building owners to leave the rental business and turn their units into condos for sale.
"Rent control is the number one housing program in San Francisco for seniors. Once you lose it, it is likely you will have to move out of the city," said attorney Bill Ambrunn, who chaired the task force. "We focus on trying to prevent evictions. Whatever is necessary to prevent a senior being evicted is what the city should be doing."
A main driver for the report’s focus on housing assistance, said task force members, is the lack of services for LGBT seniors who are forced to move out of San Francisco to other cities or states.
"The question is where do you go? San Francisco is our home," said Tom Nolan, an employee with the city’s Department of Aging and Adult Services assigned to assist the task force. "It cuts across the board for all income ranges."
Rather than call for new agencies to be created, the panel tailored many of its suggestions to be implemented by already existing service providers and city departments.