As the next budget process for San Francisco ramps up, the Community Living Campaign (CLC) is working hard to ensure the budget includes funding for the programs and services for seniors and people with disabilities need to be able to live and thrive in their homes and communities.
As a member of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, CLC helps shape budget recommendations that the Council presents to the Mayor. This year the Council’s recommendations are focused on: housing subsidies for seniors and people with disabilities; legal services to prevent eviction; and research assessing the needs of older people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Community Living Campaign strongly supports the Council’s recommendations. But we are also working to lift up something that is critically-needed in San Francisco: better employment opportunities for seniors and people with disabilities.
Every day, we talk to people who are barely surviving in pricey San Francisco, and are eager to find part-time work and meaningfully contribute to our bustling City. And these are highly-qualified, talented, and reliable workers with rich job experience!
We know this because we’ve been helping to get a new model off-the-ground supported by the Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund. SF ReServe places older adults and people with disabilities in part-time and project-based work at nonprofits in San Francisco. We just finished the pilot phase, and now have nearly 30 ReServists on-the-job.
But there are many more skilled and motivated folks eagerly waiting in the wings, hoping for employment. In fact, in total the number of people reached by all programs that offer paid work to older adults in San Francisco is only about 400 to 500!
The City can and must do more to help older people find work. Many older adults and those with disabilities need and want to work in order to make ends meet. 61% of older adults in San Francisco lack basic economic security, and most have fixed incomes that don’t keep pace with inflation. The cost of living in San Francisco is well above Federal poverty guidelines. According to the City’s Department of Aging and Adult Services, “In total, an estimated 57% of single senior households and 39% of two-person senior households have inadequate income to meet a basic standard of living” (DAAS, 2016). Older residents with limited English capacity are even worse off.
San Francisco adults with disabilities of all ages also struggle to find work and make enough to meet their basic needs. In San Francisco, “the unemployment rate for the disabled adult population in the labor force is approximately 16%” (DAAS, 2016) – five times the unemployment rate for non-disabled persons. A total of 58% of SF younger adults with disabilities have incomes under 300% of the federal poverty level.
Ageism and ableism are real, and it will take programs like SF ReServe for people to overcome barriers to employment. Leading up to the Mayor’s mid-May budget announcement, CLC will be doing as much as possible to raise the issue of employment, including attending DAAS meetings and talking with the Mayor and every Supervisor.
We hope you’ll join us at the February 13 DAAS Commission meeting at 1:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 416 to speak up and show your support.