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City and State Leaders Gather to Celebrate Progress on LGBTQ Aging Issues, Allowing More Older LGBTQ Adults to Age Within the Community

News Release

San Francisco, CA — City, state and community leaders came together today to celebrate progress implementing programs that serve the unique needs of the older adult LGBTQ population. Older adults are the fastest growing age group in San Francisco, but the specific needs of LGBTQ adults over 60 have often been overlooked. This community’s needs were highlighted by the groundbreaking work of the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force, which identified specific recommendations for programs and policies to address the challenges facing older LGBTQ adults and allow them to age within the community. Five years since the report was issued, the Task Force’s recommendations have resulted in the implementation of numerous City programs, services and trainings that have enabled more LGBTQ seniors to age with dignity within their homes and neighborhoods, adding to the vibrancy of San Francisco.

LGBTQ seniors face heightened risk of isolation. This is a significant risk for older adults, particularly in San Francisco, where rates of living alone are higher than the state and nation. According to a 2018 Department of Adult and Aging Services (DAAS) Equity Analysis, 61 percent of LGBTQ senior clients live alone, much higher than 39 percent of the general older adult population. The Task Force’s research also noted that the LGBTQ population is less likely to have biological family for traditional support and many have lost chosen family and close friends to illness, including HIV/AIDS. Fears and experiences of discrimination can cause hesitation in accessing services or seeking out support and many have limited financial means, in some cases the result of unemployment earlier in life while caring for a loved one. LGBTQ seniors of color often experience compounding effects of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and age.

The 2014 Task Force report, “LGBT Aging at the Golden Gate: San Francisco Policy Issues and Recommendations,” highlighted gaps in serving older LGBTQ adults and outlined 13 recommendations for programs and policies that would enable LGBTQ seniors to age with dignity. As the City agency charged with serving older adults and adults with disabilities, DAAS, in partnership with nonprofit community providers, has undertaken the work of turning the majority of these recommendations into tailored programs and trainings that help LGBTQ older adults obtain needed services and support.

“While there is still more work to be done to ensure that all LGBTQ citizens can age with dignity and support within our community, I want to commend the Department of Aging and Adult Services for their vision and determination in implementing these needed programs,” said Mayor London Breed. “As a result, San Francisco is a more inclusive, vibrant and ultimately, a more caring City—one that is closer to ensuring that all of our older adults can age with dignity.”

The Task Force recommendations have resulted in directly increasing service to the older LGBTQ adult community. In 2017-18, DAAS served 2,039 clients who identified as LGBTQ, a 71 percent increase over enrollment levels four years ago. This increase is due in part to new programs specifically designed for the LGBTQ senior population recommended by the Task Force; however, this trend also reflects better data gathered about the older adult LGBTQ population. DAAS has provided trainings in gathering demographic data on sexual orientation and gender identity, thereby allowing the City and its nonprofit partners to better align services with the community’s needs.  

Examples of the policies and programs implemented for LGBTQ older adults include: a new Care Navigation and Isolation Prevention program that utilizes trained staff and peer mentors to help clients access social services and reduce isolation; cultural sensitivity trainings for service providers in working effectively with LGBTQ seniors; a housing subsidy program that is targeted to LGBTQ older adults at risk of eviction; a Financial Literacy empowerment program; and Legal and Life Planning services to ensure their chosen family relationships and end of life choices are respected.

 “I am incredibly proud of and thankful for the work of the LGBT Aging Policy Taskforce and for San Francisco’s leadership in implementing these policies,” stated state Senator Scott Wiener. “Our LGBTQ seniors have helped shape the society we live in now and the rights we enjoy. We owe it to these incredible pioneers to ensure they can age with dignity and respect. I am also proud that the work of this task force is influencing state and federal policy so that all of our LGBTQ seniors are protected and uplifted. Work remains, but we must also celebrate and recognize the importance of the progress we’ve made.”

“Thanks to the work of the Task Force and the Department of Aging and Adult Services, San Francisco has made great progress toward ensuring that our LGBTQ seniors are able to age with pride,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “Queer seniors shouldn’t be forced back into the closet as they age—they should be celebrated and provided with the resources, housing, and support they need to thrive.”

“We are proud of the work our agency and community providers have been able to achieve within five years of the Task Force’s report,” stated Shireen McSpadden, Executive Director of DAAS. “Our City is a more inclusive and diverse community as a result of our programs which are enabling more LGBTQ seniors to age within their homes and neighborhoods.”

“I am very grateful that the hard work of the Task Force has helped create significant change for aging members of the LGBTQ community,” said Task Force Chair Bill Ambrunn. “The Report was a road map for DAAS and other departments to improve the lives of LGBTQ seniors in San Francisco. While there is more work to be done, City officials have delivered impressively on their promise to implement the Task Force recommendations.”

View the full Task Force report.

For more information on the services described, please visit the DAAS Benefits and Resources Hub, which offers streamlined access to services to available services throughout the City.

About the San Francisco Human Services Agency
The Human Services Agency (HSA) promotes well-being and self-sufficiency among individuals, families and communities in San Francisco. The Agency delivers a safety net of protective services and public benefits that are designed to meet the unique needs of low-income individuals, children and families, older adults, and adults with disabilities. As a state-mandated county public social services agency, HSA provides public assistance through cash assistance, food and nutritional support, health insurance, and supportive housing, among other services.

About the Department of Aging and Adult Services
Part of the Human Services Agency, DAAS provides services for older adults, veterans, people with disabilities and their caregivers to maximize their safety, health, and independence. The Benefits and Resources Hub streamlines access to services by providing information and making connections to available services throughout the City. With a single call to (415) 355-6700 or a visit to 2 Gough Street, you can learn about and apply for available services.

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Contact info

Joe Molica
(415) 557-6682