(From press release by Erin Saberi)
More than 1000 seniors, people with disabilities and citizens concerned about quality of life for the fastest growing age group – older adults – turned out at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco on September 20. The gathering was the largest event to be held in California to date, with information shared and big ideas offered for the California Master Plan on Aging, called for by Governor Newsom in June 2019.
Policymakers, activists and foundation leaders, all called for a robust response to the Governor’s executive order to develop a CA Master Plan On Aging by October 2020. “This plan poses an historic opportunity to move beyond a patchwork approach to supports and services,” said Marie Jobling, Co-Chair of the Dignity Fund Coalition, a co-sponsor of today’s event. “We need to build an effective, holistic response that assures the growing number of older adults get the services and supports they need to live with dignity at home and to continue to have a vital role and presence in our communities.”
A panel of policy experts and elected officials – State Senator Scott Wiener, Assembly member David Chiu, San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and longtime elderly advocate San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee – discussed the enormity of the challenges posed by California’s growing population of older adults. California’s senior population will increase by nearly 90 percent or 4 million people in the next few decades, according to the Public Policy of California. Currently, 1 in 5 seniors in California lives in poverty, 3 in 10 older Californians do not have enough income to cover basic needs and 1 in 4 older adults is facing housing cost burdens with many falling into homelessness.
In San Francisco, older adults and persons with disabilities represent over 25 percent of San Francisco’s population. By 2030, nearly 30 percent of San Franciscans will be age 60 or older.
Speakers also noted that as the CA Master Plan develops, policymakers will look to learn from San Francisco’s decades long leadership in providing critical supports to older adults and people with disabilities. Local activists and policymakers observed that San Francisco has made great strides, but a statewide vision is necessary to make lasting gains. “We welcome this opportunity provided by the Governor,” said Anne Quaintance, Co-Chair of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council of San Francisco, a co-sponsor of today’s event. “We know from our experience that state involvement is critical to building the integrated and sustainable vision necessary for age-friendly cities and communities to become a reality in the years to come. We look forward to contributing to the CA Master Plan and collaborating with the state to identify opportunities and solutions.”
Participants also acknowledged that the large public turnout today is indicative of widespread public interest in meeting the needs of older adults and persons with disabilities. Two recent surveys conducted by the “We Stand With Seniors” campaign found that 86 percent of voters support the state investing in more caregiver services for older-adults and their families and 73 percent of voters say they are concerned about their own ability to pay for long-term care. 9 out of 10 voters surveyed across party lines feel it is important for California to have a Master Plan for Aging to invest in services that allow seniors to age in place.
This public forum was the first of a series of public forums to be held in San Francisco during the CA Master Plan development process. Continued public input will be key to identifying ways in which the CA Master Plan can build environments that promote healthy aging and potentially revolutionize how Californians age for decades to come. Look for our hashtag. #BePartOfThePlanSF
For more information, visit: www.sfdignityfund.org and https://www.sfhsa.org/about/commissions-committees/long-term-care-coordinating-council-ltccc.