Strut Opens Doors

 

New Wellness Facility in Heart of Neighborhood

From left to right: San Francisco AIDS Foundation Interim CEO Tim “TJ” Jones, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, Campaign for Health and Wellness leadership committee chairman Tom Perrault, Strut Executive Director Tim Patriarca, and former foundation CEO Neil Giuliano on Tuesday, January 5.

 

 

With the New Year in the Castro came a major innovation in community engagement and support for HIV holistic health and wellness services for gay, bisexual and transgender men. Just this week the San Francisco AIDS Foundation opened a new center called “Strut” - a name evoking confidence and support - with a ribbon-cutting at their new center for health and wellness at 470 Castro St.

 

The model for Strut is to have all Foundation neighborhood programs in a single space to seamlessly help reach and serve more people. Free supportive services are available to help clients work toward maintaining their health, regardless of their HIV status. As Neil Giuliano, SF AIDS Foundation CEO, remarked at the January 5 opening, “That means more HIV testing, harm reduction counseling, case management and community engagement services in a judgment-free, culturally-competent atmosphere, in one spot.”

 

In particular, gay, bi and trans men will be able to access HIV testing, screening and treatment for other sexually-transmitted infections as they have at Magnet since 2003. In addition, Strut will be the permanent home of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program that has thus far helped over 625 HIV-negative men access medication to prevent HIV infection.

 

In mid-January other components of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation menu of programs will move over to the new site at 470 Castro (complementary services will continue at 1035 Market and the mobile testing unit, however). These include the Stonewall Project, Bridgemen, the DREAAM Project, the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network and Positive Force.

 

The new building will enable the foundation to expand case management services by 25%, mental health counseling by 25%, substance abuse and harm reduction counseling by 50%, and HIV and STI screening up to 40%.

 

To fund the ambitious work of Strut, a campaign for Health and Wellness has been established. Thus far more than $12.6 million in community contributions has been raised toward a goal of $15 million.

 

In the midst of even positive change it is always important to remember the guiding principles of any worthwhile endeavor. In the case of the foundation, which was begun in 1982 with the mission of radically reducing new infections in San Francisco, the focus is to confront HIV in communities that are most vulnerable to the disease, through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care.

 

For more information, consult sfaf.org, strutsf.org. and strutsf.org/wellnesscampaign.

 

Photo: Greg Lester

 

Other articles on Strut

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

 

Super Bowl Fan Village To Halt Street Car in Its Tracks

 

 

As the allotted time for the “Fan Village” planned to inhabit Justin Herman Plaza and the surrounding streets draws nearer, many of the details about plans to mitigate the effects of the truncation of the F-Line after Embarcadero remain unclear. The NFL sponsored “Fan Village” is scheduled to open January 30th and stay open through to the Super Bowl on February 7th. The set up and take down could mean up to another week on either end of the event.

 

A press release from Napa Valley on the planned “Fan Village” stated that “The Host Committee is donating 25 percent of every dollar raised to Bay Area community initiatives and high-performing nonprofits through 50 Fund.” The measure holds the possibility of compensation for some of those who will experience lower sales, employee shortages, and other transportation related inconveniences for the duration of the event.

 

Nathan Ballard of the Host Committee claims that advertisements to draw Fan Village attendants to the Castro area will be increased in the absence of the historic streetcar route. Paul Rose of Muni notes that subway service will also be increased.

 

The Super Bowl Fan Village is scheduled from Jan. 30-Feb. 7.Organizations like the Castro Merchants, the Office of Economic Workforce Development, Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, and the Castro Community Benefit District have all been vocal about their concerns about the loss of business and inconvenience to commuting Castro residents that the Fan Village will cause. However, very few merchants or organizations have actually been included in the festivities.

 

Ballard assured that there is a “Charity Arm” called the 50 Fund that “has already given over $5 million to over 100 Bay Area Non-Profits.” When asked to comment on how many of these Non-profits were in the Castro, his response was that $10,000 Playmaker grants were given out to the SF LGBT Center, Loco Boco, Athletic Scholars Advancement Program and One Degree. Two of the non-profits referenced, Loco Boco housed in the Women’s Building on 18th Street in the Mission, and Scholars Advancement Program at Mission High School, also located on 18th Street, are not located in the Castro but are near the F Line. The LGBT Center is on the F Line, located on the edge of the Upper Market/Castro area. The last organization mentioned, One Degree, is the only organization he named that is in the Castro district. One non-profit organization in the Castro has been awarded money from the Bay Area Community 50 Fund.

 

Ballard said claimed SFMTA will provide Castro Merchants with additional advertising and that community events to get visitors to the Castro are also underway. No further details were provided regarding either of these measures.

 

Muni commented on working “with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Super Bowl Host Committee to provide key transportation information for people traveling to and from the nearby events,” including the promotion of the Castro Shuttle and increased Subway service in efforts to mitigate the effects of the “Fan City” on merchants and residents that use the F Line or rely on its operation for much of their business.

 

The Super Bowl 50 Map shows that the re-routing of the F-Line to the Mission and Howard Streets will support the transportation of Fan Village visitors around the Fan Village but does not demonstrate how this rerouting will aid transportation issues created by the F-Line truncation.

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Crime Spike Threatens Streets

Wave of property crime hits Castro

 

 

 

As the gap between rich and poor continues to grow in San Francisco, so does the rate of crime on our streets. District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener aims to do something about it.

 

Wiener, who was robbed of his cell phone last month, has a personal goal to combat crime. The 6-foot-7 supervisor was walking from his home in the Castro to 16th and Mission, when a woman snatched his cell phone out of his hand. Two men accompanied her. Thinking quickly, Wiener offered $200 to get his phone back. The robbers then accompanied him to the nearest ATM machine, where they were caught on video camera. After a police report was filed, the woman was arrested.

 

Wiener has called for a public hearing on property crime trends in residential neighborhoods including home invasions, auto break-ins, and robberies in early 2016. At the hearing, the Police Department, the District Attorney, and the Superior Court will be asked to report on current property crime trends, and what is being done to address these issues. Community safety groups like SF SAFE will also be invited to discuss how residents can better protect themselves against these crimes through organizing neighborhood watches and employing safety strategies.

 

“Our neighborhoods continue to be confronted by a relentless wave of property crimes,” said Supervisor Wiener. “There are high profile cases of home invasions, and everyday disturbances like car break-ins and packages being stolen off people’s porches. We need to know what’s actually happening, how the city is responding and what approaches residents can take to protect themselves and their property. We need more officers walking beats, and more focus on property crimes. We need our police, our District Attorney’s Office, our courts, our probations departments, and our community organizations to work together to ensure accountability for crime, as well as strong efforts at rehabilitation to reduce recidivism.”

 

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Bay Area suffers from a poverty rate at near historic highs, despite being a nationwide leader in job growth. More than 800,000 people in the region are living below the poverty line, according to the report, “Poverty in the Bay Area,” that was released by the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies last year. The data reflects levels reached in 2013, the most recent year for which these statistics are available. The study found that San Francisco had the highest poverty level in the Bay Area in 2013 at 13.8 percent.

 

While the Castro appears to be safer than other neighborhoods in the city, criminal activity is still prevalent. According to the SF Data website, 28 criminal acts took place in the Castro and were reported to the SFPD from December 1, 2015 - December 21, 2015. The majority of these acts involved car break-ins and auto theft, with petty theft and assault following close behind. There were a total of eight counts vehicle theft, seven counts of theft/larceny and three counts of assault reported.

 

The Mission District proved to be one of the neighborhoods with the highest crime rate. The SF Data website cited 1033 criminal acts took place in the Mission District from December 1, 2015 - December 21, 2015. This number can be broken down as follows: 130 counts of larceny/theft, 121 counts of assault, 73 counts of burglaries/robberies, and 69 counts of vehicle theft. These statistics do not account for any other criminal activity that was not reported to the police.

 

Other Castro residents are also concerned about their safety in their own neighborhood. Local bar owner, Liz Ryan, was attacked in front of her own home on 17th Street last month.

 

“A man shoved me to the ground and tried to remove my purse by slashing it with a knife,” Ryan said. “My screaming woke up [my partner] who scared the attacker off. Be careful, everybody. There are some terrible people out there.”

 

The one thing that will help prevent crime in our city is still lacking - more police officers. Supervisor Wiener has been working hard since taking office to improve police staffing.

 

According to Wiener, San Francisco has nearly 100,000 more residents than there were a decade ago and around 300 fewer police officers. In 2012, a six-year hiring plan was adopted, to get the department from under 1,700 officers to 2,000 officers. In 2014, the department finally stopped shrinking and is now growing. San Francisco will hit 2,000 officers in 2017 or early 2018. However, 2,000 officers isn’t enough. That “full staffing” number was set decades ago, when we were a smaller city.

 

Last year, Wiener requested an analysis of what full staffing means for San Francisco, considering population growth and staffing levels in peer cities. That analysis showed that San Francisco should have between 2,200 and 2,300 police officers to have adequate staffing. Wiener authored a resolution early this year to make it city policy to get to at least 2,200 police officers.

 

“Regarding the current explosion of auto break-ins and other property crimes, the police department is very focused on this problem,” Wiener stated. “The main objective is to make sure that people who are arrested for these crimes are held accountable. Right now, there’s very little accountability.”

 

In addition to the public hearing set for early 2016, Supervisor Wiener will also convene a District 8 neighborhood safety community meeting in light of the increase in crime in January. In the meantime, the SFPD urges citizens to pay attention to their belongings and to stay alert when out on our city streets.

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

New Housing Law Favors Locals

 

 

 

 

For older residents of the Castro and those recently evicted, housing prospects just got a little bit brighter.

 

This past December, with a vote of 9-2, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 204-15, allocating 40 percent of newly built affordable housing units to be allocated to the individuals living in the neighborhood where the new unit is located. The ordinance goes further to give preference to tenants evicted under the Ellis Act. The bill was sponsored by Mayor Lee and Co-Sponsored by City Supervisors Julie Christensen, Malia Cohen, London Breed, Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell. Supervisor Wiener believes the bill will go a long way in helping to stem the city’s current housing crisis.

 

“When someone transitions to affordable housing or needs to transition to affordable housing we want to make sure they have a realistic opportunity to be able to stay in their neighborhood,” he said.

 

In the past few years, changing demographics and increased gentrification have contributed to a crisis in the San Francisco housing market. According to the San Francisco Bay Area Market Report, in the first half of 2015, the average sales price of apartment buildings with five or more units has jumped 82 percent since 2009 to $485 per square foot.

 

The current housing crisis directly impacts the city’s most vulnerable populations. LGBT seniors are at increased risk. Many LGBT seniors live on fixed incomes, and have been residents of rent stabilized apartments for many years. Further, LGBT seniors are less likely to have adult children to provide them with support. “They are really in need of support from the city to make sure they are stable in their housing and able to remain as valuable members of our community,” Supervisor Wiener said. “Housing is a key part of that.”

 

In 2014, Wiener secured a budget appropriation to create a new program to educate and provide outreach to the LGBT community regarding affordable housing. As a result, Openhouse, the San Francisco-based LGBT senior agency, provides services to assist seniors in this process.

 

“We’ve seen an increasing level of displacement whether it’s an official eviction or some other way where the owner is able to get the tenant out of the apartment..and the LGBT community has definitely been impacted by this problem.”

 

When asked as to whether 40 percent was a sufficient number to accommodate neighborhood applicants, Wiener said, “Forty percent was quite aggressive and very sensible under the law. Some people wanted to go further, but we went as far as we could go legally.”

 

Construction has begun at 55 Laguna Street, a 116 unit complex near the intersection of Laguna and Market. The location is the address of Richardson Hall on the former U.C. Berkeley extension campus between Hermann and Haight. Residents who live in the adjacent area, or within a half mile of these project are able to enter a lottery to live in the building. Thirty-nine units, or approximately 40 percent of the building’s units are allocated for low-income seniors 55 or older. Additionally, six of the senior units will be assigned to people living with HIV or AIDS and at-risk for or have been chronically homeless.When completed in the summer of 2016, the rehabilitation also will include a new permanent location for Openhouse to provide expanded services, programs, and activities targeted to the LGBT senior community as well as all seniors city wide. 55 Laguna will be the country’s largest, affordable housing community specifically welcoming to LGBT seniors.

 

According to the Openhouse website, another housing project will take place at 95 Laguna Street. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and will be completed in 2018. A project at 95 Laguna will provide another 79 units for low-income seniors in a new seven-story building. The development also will include an 8,000 square-foot senior activity center operated by Openhouse to serve the wider senior community.

 

“The LGBT community historically has not accessed affordable housing at the levels that we like to see and we’ve been trying to do more education in the community to make people know there is an affordable housing program in San Francisco,” Wiener said. “We have to make sure people understand that they need to proactively sign up and get into these units and to do so not when the eviction notice arrives.”

 

In order to be considered for 55 Laguna, residents must be 55 or older and household income level will need to be 50 percent of the area median income. In 2015 the meidian income for a one-person household was $35,700 and for a two-person household it was $40,750.

 

To sign up for the lottery and get more information about future projects, local residents can contact Openhouse at (415)296-8995 or go online to sign up at http://openhouse-sf.org. Information can also be found on the website for the Mayor of San Francisco at http://www.sfmohcd.org.

 

In the next few years, a total of 300 units would be available for local residents in the Upper Market area between Castro and Octavia. Wiener believes that although these projects are important, more housing needs to be built to address the needs of the city’s low income residents. “Having these units come online will be very positive for the neighborhood but it’s only the start,” he said, “We need a lot more affordable housing in the Castro/Upper Market area and throughout the city. We have a lot of work to do.”

 

More articles about LGBT housing

November 2015

Jan 2015

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

AIDS Housing Alliance Gets 25K Boost

 

 

AIDS Housing Alliance has been on the front lines fighting for affordable housing and against homelessness in the HIV/AIDS community since 2004, when Founder and Executive Director Brian Basinger quite literally had a dream that let him know in no uncertain terms that this was his calling. His list of accomplishments has climbed sky high over the years, breaking through old barriers and boundaries along the way.

 

Wendy: It’s such a crazy time for the housing market right now. It seems like it has really snowballed as of late, where things have gotten completely out of control. People are scrambling trying to deal with this in an equitable way but it is a lot to keep up with. How has the situation with the imbalance of income and the housing boom affected your clientele and the work that you do at AHA?

 

Brian: There are many great organizations who’ve been involved in the housing justice movement for a long time who are our comrades, like the Housing Rights Committee, Eviction Defense Collaborative and the Coalition on Homelessness. Our message hasn’t changed. We’ve been sounding the alarm for a long time. I think what it is reminiscent of is, “First they came for the gypsies and I said nothing ‘cause I wasn’t a gypsy.” What’s happened now is that the housing crisis has been going on for a long time, but it has jumped the shark, and it’s trickled into the mainstream. It’s actually flooded the mainstream and so now we have to pay attention to it. Everybody’s friends, their neighbors, everybody is personally feeling the fear that they’re next. Unfortunately, what that also means is that for the people further upstream who were getting squeezed before, the situation has become unmanageable. For senior or disabled folks who are predominantly the people that we work with, even though we work with people from 18 years old to - my oldest client is 97, so we serve the gamut but for the low income people who we were waving the flag about 12 years ago who are existing on Social Security, before we used to be able to cobble together a path for them. For many years we had an assembly line where people were losing their homes because of real estate speculation, 50 percent of the homeless people with AIDS that we surveyed, evictions were the primary deriver of their homelessness.

 

Wendy: Your agency has helped to advocate for some changes in the law in terms of who can be Ellis Act evicted by way of making those landlords who prey on the weakest among us, who have less of a way of fighting for themselves, you have somehow advocated a way for those types of landlords to be put at the bottom of the list for condo conversion, no?

 

Brian: Yes. One of the interesting things about being in this job for such a long time is you start to have a history, really being able to look back on a series of accomplishments and being able to affect change. It kind of has a cumulative effect that the more you achieve, the more you feel like you can achieve. It helps [one to] keep going because you do get a sense of success. Even though the entire situation is pretty profound right now, it’s nice to be able to have a sense that there are things that you can do. We were 10 months old when we passed that legislation you referred to, which is the No Fast Pass to Eviction. What that really came from was, back in a previous career when I worked in - those days it was called dot com, now it’s tech, but I had gone through two IPOs, and I had also run the personal finance channel and the travel channel where I worked. I knew that investors are looking for an exit strategy and that they’re really looking the time value of money. It’s about getting in and getting out really quick. I thought that if I could disrupt their exit strategy that I could influence the way that they were investing their capitol, in a way that helped provide protection for vulnerable senior and disabled renters.At the time 80 percent of all of the Ellis Act evictions were in buildings with senior or disabled people in them. I know that because I went down to the rent board. We went and got the information about every single Ellis Act eviction in the city, and put it into a spreadsheet and made a map. I color coded the map for evictions of senior and disabled folks. So yes, I was able to put those real estate owners who did not evict a senior or disabled person, we put them to the front of the line in the condo conversion lottery. It had it’s intended effect and significantly changed the eviction landscape in the city almost immediately.

 

Interestingly, I also knew that homelessness and housing instability was a main driver of the behaviors that lead to HIV infection. When people are homeless it’s harder to make choices. The science shows that people who have homelessness or housing instability, their behavior [that] can lead to the exchange of the virus increases by two and a half times, so there’s a huge intersection between behavior that puts people at risk for all kinds of things and housing status. We also have this other data that shows how especially gay men with AIDS were being, and still are being targeted for eviction because they happen to live in neighborhoods that became very desirable. That was back in 2004 and enough time has passed now that before our legislation, No Fast Pass to Eviction, the annual HIV infection rates for years could not get below 1000 people a year. Now we get to look back and see that right after my legislation passed is the first time that HIV infection rates had gone under that 1000 people mark.

 

Wendy: That’s amazing. And aside from the preventative aspects of things, of keeping homelessness from happening in the first place, your agency provides a wealth of services for people who have a temporary shortfall. What are all the services that AHA provides?

 

Brian: We’ve been really fortunate that it seems whenever I encounter an obstacle in achieving our goals and our outcomes, which is stable housing, that we can develop innovative programs to address whatever that obstacle is and get the funding to make it happen. It’s really just whatever frustrates me. I try to help somebody and if something gets in my way I get really frustrated and I have to fix it. Over the years I have now been able to assemble every type of financial assistance that I know of, and I don’t know any organization that does everything that we do. If you picture a ladder of emergency financial aid for people experiencing a housing crisis, we can start with emergency hotel vouchers, so we can put people up at a hotel for a week. Those are for people who have a more permanent placement pending. Let’s say we’re in the middle of getting them into affordable housing, They’ve been couch surfing and the person kicks them out and they’ve got nowhere to go. I don’t want to lose touch with them and not be able to get across the finish line, so we can stabilize them in a hotel for a short period of time while we finish the move in process. That’s one week we can even do a day. The next rung in the ladder is move-in deposit or first month’s rent. Somebody’s been homeless and finally secures their housing and they need $1500, $3000 to move in. That’s a really big barrier to ending homelessness, so we’re able to provide assistance with that as well. The next one is back rent. Let’s say they lose their job; they’ve got another job but they’re about to get evicted ‘cause they haven’t paid their rent in a couple of months. If they lose their housing they’re gonna lose their job. Then they become homeless on the street and it’s really hard to get out of that. Why on earth should somebody lose their long term rent controlled housing when we know that all [we’ve] gotta do is get them over this hump and they’ll be ok. We can do back rent assistance for that. The next one is what’s called short term rental subsidies. I can pay somebody’s back rent, but let’s say they’ve been approved for Social Security, but they’re not gonna get their Social Security check for two months, so I’ll pay their back rent and I’ll give them a short term rental subsidy to get to that next place. The next one up is, we actually have what is called needs based rental subsidies. That’s the ongoing rental subsidy and those are for senior or disabled people. I’m really thrilled to get that because now, for those senior or disabled folks, sometimes their rent exceeds their income and they’re running out - their life savings is ending and they’re gonna lose their home. We can actually put them into an ongoing rental subsidy so they don’t have to lose their home. I have three people who are in their nineties who are in that subsidy program. There’s no reason that we should have a 90 year old become homeless in San Francisco - just no! No. It’s not ok. That was also the first rental subsidy program in the nation that is targeting LGBT seniors. The last one that we’re able to do also now is a permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people with HIV and AIDS. In our world that’s everything. All of the things that somebody can do for someone, we’re now doing. The only other thing I can do is buy a building or have someone give it to me; that’s the only other mountain I can conquer!

 

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Local Marketing Guru for Small Biz

 

Lawrence Nathanson, Castro resident

 

 

Laurence Nathanson is a Castro resident with extensive experience in online marketing. His 27-year career has included everything from heading up game software licensing in Asia to doing video production and social media marketing in boutique local firms.

 

Now he has put together his two passions - video production and online marketing - in a unique digital marketing agency. Its goal is to generate ongoing new customers and build effective long-term relationships for service provider companies.

 

Online video in 2016 has become a significant factor in the online marketing mix, currently accounting for over 75 percent of all consumer internet content. Nathanson found that a majority of consumers agreed that by watching a video profile on a professional service provider or location based company, it had a big influence on them engaging with that business. The lesson from this, in Nathanson’s view, is that if a business is not currently using online video to market their business, they are missing out on a very effective customer generation tool.

 

How does the Imagination Media’s online video and social media process typically work? “It is very much demand driven,” explains Nathanson. “We first research the most popular keywords that consumers are typing in to Google to find each client’s location and business segment. Then we create a script utilizing that exact keyword combination in order to optimize search engine results.” At this point a film crew records the client reading the keyword and customer focused script from a teleprompter and edits in additional footage and music to achieve the polished result.

 

The Imagination Media team then works to get the video ranked on page one of Google, where over 71 percent of all clicks take place. This process, known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO, can take one to three months to achieve first page rankings and then ongoing work to keep the video on page one after that.” Laurence is particularly proud of the fact that Imagination Media has a no-risk proposition in their Google page-one guarantee, so that if your video falls off page one in any month, the monthly SEO fee for that month is free.

 

In addition, the company utilizes targeted Facebook and YouTube advertising to fill the prospects funnel so results can be seen very soon after a video production.

 

What types of business benefit the most from online video marketing? From architects to contractors, from accountants to lawyers, dentists to plastic surgeons, event spaces to spas, and everything in between - all these businesses would generate new customers from online marketing. What they all have in common is that in the end they are consumer-facing businesses and committed to long-term customer values.

 

For more information, check out the Imagination Media website at www.imagination.media or contact Laurence Nathanson directly at (415) 940-7500 or laurence@imagination.media.

 

© Castro Courier 2014 No part of this website or artwork portrayed may be redistributed or republished without the express permission of the Castro Courier. Opinions expressed are strictly those of the writers and do not reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff.

 

Strut Opens Doors

 

New Wellness Facility in Heart of Neighborhood

From left to right: San Francisco AIDS Foundation Interim CEO Tim “TJ” Jones, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, Campaign for Health and Wellness leadership committee chairman Tom Perrault, Strut Executive Director Tim Patriarca, and former foundation CEO Neil Giuliano on Tuesday, January 5.

 

 

With the New Year in the Castro came a major innovation in community engagement and support for HIV holistic health and wellness services for gay, bisexual and transgender men. Just this week the San Francisco AIDS Foundation opened a new center called “Strut” - a name evoking confidence and support - with a ribbon-cutting at their new center for health and wellness at 470 Castro St.

 

The model for Strut is to have all Foundation neighborhood programs in a single space to seamlessly help reach and serve more people. Free supportive services are available to help clients work toward maintaining their health, regardless of their HIV status. As Neil Giuliano, SF AIDS Foundation CEO, remarked at the January 5 opening, “That means more HIV testing, harm reduction counseling, case management and community engagement services in a judgment-free, culturally-competent atmosphere, in one spot.”

 

In particular, gay, bi and trans men will be able to access HIV testing, screening and treatment for other sexually-transmitted infections as they have at Magnet since 2003. In addition, Strut will be the permanent home of the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program that has thus far helped over 625 HIV-negative men access medication to prevent HIV infection.

 

In mid-January other components of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation menu of programs will move over to the new site at 470 Castro (complementary services will continue at 1035 Market and the mobile testing unit, however). These include the Stonewall Project, Bridgemen, the DREAAM Project, the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network and Positive Force.

 

The new building will enable the foundation to expand case management services by 25%, mental health counseling by 25%, substance abuse and harm reduction counseling by 50%, and HIV and STI screening up to 40%.

 

To fund the ambitious work of Strut, a campaign for Health and Wellness has been established. Thus far more than $12.6 million in community contributions has been raised toward a goal of $15 million.

 

In the midst of even positive change it is always important to remember the guiding principles of any worthwhile endeavor. In the case of the foundation, which was begun in 1982 with the mission of radically reducing new infections in San Francisco, the focus is to confront HIV in communities that are most vulnerable to the disease, through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care.

 

For more information, consult sfaf.org, strutsf.org. and strutsf.org/wellnesscampaign.

 

Photo: Greg Lester

 

Other articles on Strut

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

 

Super Bowl Fan Village To Halt Street Car in Its Tracks

 

 

As the allotted time for the “Fan Village” planned to inhabit Justin Herman Plaza and the surrounding streets draws nearer, many of the details about plans to mitigate the effects of the truncation of the F-Line after Embarcadero remain unclear. The NFL sponsored “Fan Village” is scheduled to open January 30th and stay open through to the Super Bowl on February 7th. The set up and take down could mean up to another week on either end of the event.

 

A press release from Napa Valley on the planned “Fan Village” stated that “The Host Committee is donating 25 percent of every dollar raised to Bay Area community initiatives and high-performing nonprofits through 50 Fund.” The measure holds the possibility of compensation for some of those who will experience lower sales, employee shortages, and other transportation related inconveniences for the duration of the event.

 

Nathan Ballard of the Host Committee claims that advertisements to draw Fan Village attendants to the Castro area will be increased in the absence of the historic streetcar route. Paul Rose of Muni notes that subway service will also be increased.

 

The Super Bowl Fan Village is scheduled from Jan. 30-Feb. 7.Organizations like the Castro Merchants, the Office of Economic Workforce Development, Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, and the Castro Community Benefit District have all been vocal about their concerns about the loss of business and inconvenience to commuting Castro residents that the Fan Village will cause. However, very few merchants or organizations have actually been included in the festivities.

 

Ballard assured that there is a “Charity Arm” called the 50 Fund that “has already given over $5 million to over 100 Bay Area Non-Profits.” When asked to comment on how many of these Non-profits were in the Castro, his response was that $10,000 Playmaker grants were given out to the SF LGBT Center, Loco Boco, Athletic Scholars Advancement Program and One Degree. Two of the non-profits referenced, Loco Boco housed in the Women’s Building on 18th Street in the Mission, and Scholars Advancement Program at Mission High School, also located on 18th Street, are not located in the Castro but are near the F Line. The LGBT Center is on the F Line, located on the edge of the Upper Market/Castro area. The last organization mentioned, One Degree, is the only organization he named that is in the Castro district. One non-profit organization in the Castro has been awarded money from the Bay Area Community 50 Fund.

 

Ballard said claimed SFMTA will provide Castro Merchants with additional advertising and that community events to get visitors to the Castro are also underway. No further details were provided regarding either of these measures.

 

Muni commented on working “with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Super Bowl Host Committee to provide key transportation information for people traveling to and from the nearby events,” including the promotion of the Castro Shuttle and increased Subway service in efforts to mitigate the effects of the “Fan City” on merchants and residents that use the F Line or rely on its operation for much of their business.

 

The Super Bowl 50 Map shows that the re-routing of the F-Line to the Mission and Howard Streets will support the transportation of Fan Village visitors around the Fan Village but does not demonstrate how this rerouting will aid transportation issues created by the F-Line truncation.

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Crime Spike Threatens Streets

Wave of property crime hits Castro

 

 

 

As the gap between rich and poor continues to grow in San Francisco, so does the rate of crime on our streets. District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener aims to do something about it.

 

Wiener, who was robbed of his cell phone last month, has a personal goal to combat crime. The 6-foot-7 supervisor was walking from his home in the Castro to 16th and Mission, when a woman snatched his cell phone out of his hand. Two men accompanied her. Thinking quickly, Wiener offered $200 to get his phone back. The robbers then accompanied him to the nearest ATM machine, where they were caught on video camera. After a police report was filed, the woman was arrested.

 

Wiener has called for a public hearing on property crime trends in residential neighborhoods including home invasions, auto break-ins, and robberies in early 2016. At the hearing, the Police Department, the District Attorney, and the Superior Court will be asked to report on current property crime trends, and what is being done to address these issues. Community safety groups like SF SAFE will also be invited to discuss how residents can better protect themselves against these crimes through organizing neighborhood watches and employing safety strategies.

 

“Our neighborhoods continue to be confronted by a relentless wave of property crimes,” said Supervisor Wiener. “There are high profile cases of home invasions, and everyday disturbances like car break-ins and packages being stolen off people’s porches. We need to know what’s actually happening, how the city is responding and what approaches residents can take to protect themselves and their property. We need more officers walking beats, and more focus on property crimes. We need our police, our District Attorney’s Office, our courts, our probations departments, and our community organizations to work together to ensure accountability for crime, as well as strong efforts at rehabilitation to reduce recidivism.”

 

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Bay Area suffers from a poverty rate at near historic highs, despite being a nationwide leader in job growth. More than 800,000 people in the region are living below the poverty line, according to the report, “Poverty in the Bay Area,” that was released by the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies last year. The data reflects levels reached in 2013, the most recent year for which these statistics are available. The study found that San Francisco had the highest poverty level in the Bay Area in 2013 at 13.8 percent.

 

While the Castro appears to be safer than other neighborhoods in the city, criminal activity is still prevalent. According to the SF Data website, 28 criminal acts took place in the Castro and were reported to the SFPD from December 1, 2015 - December 21, 2015. The majority of these acts involved car break-ins and auto theft, with petty theft and assault following close behind. There were a total of eight counts vehicle theft, seven counts of theft/larceny and three counts of assault reported.

 

The Mission District proved to be one of the neighborhoods with the highest crime rate. The SF Data website cited 1033 criminal acts took place in the Mission District from December 1, 2015 - December 21, 2015. This number can be broken down as follows: 130 counts of larceny/theft, 121 counts of assault, 73 counts of burglaries/robberies, and 69 counts of vehicle theft. These statistics do not account for any other criminal activity that was not reported to the police.

 

Other Castro residents are also concerned about their safety in their own neighborhood. Local bar owner, Liz Ryan, was attacked in front of her own home on 17th Street last month.

 

“A man shoved me to the ground and tried to remove my purse by slashing it with a knife,” Ryan said. “My screaming woke up [my partner] who scared the attacker off. Be careful, everybody. There are some terrible people out there.”

 

The one thing that will help prevent crime in our city is still lacking - more police officers. Supervisor Wiener has been working hard since taking office to improve police staffing.

 

According to Wiener, San Francisco has nearly 100,000 more residents than there were a decade ago and around 300 fewer police officers. In 2012, a six-year hiring plan was adopted, to get the department from under 1,700 officers to 2,000 officers. In 2014, the department finally stopped shrinking and is now growing. San Francisco will hit 2,000 officers in 2017 or early 2018. However, 2,000 officers isn’t enough. That “full staffing” number was set decades ago, when we were a smaller city.

 

Last year, Wiener requested an analysis of what full staffing means for San Francisco, considering population growth and staffing levels in peer cities. That analysis showed that San Francisco should have between 2,200 and 2,300 police officers to have adequate staffing. Wiener authored a resolution early this year to make it city policy to get to at least 2,200 police officers.

 

“Regarding the current explosion of auto break-ins and other property crimes, the police department is very focused on this problem,” Wiener stated. “The main objective is to make sure that people who are arrested for these crimes are held accountable. Right now, there’s very little accountability.”

 

In addition to the public hearing set for early 2016, Supervisor Wiener will also convene a District 8 neighborhood safety community meeting in light of the increase in crime in January. In the meantime, the SFPD urges citizens to pay attention to their belongings and to stay alert when out on our city streets.

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

New Housing Law Favors Locals

 

 

 

 

For older residents of the Castro and those recently evicted, housing prospects just got a little bit brighter.

 

This past December, with a vote of 9-2, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed Ordinance 204-15, allocating 40 percent of newly built affordable housing units to be allocated to the individuals living in the neighborhood where the new unit is located. The ordinance goes further to give preference to tenants evicted under the Ellis Act. The bill was sponsored by Mayor Lee and Co-Sponsored by City Supervisors Julie Christensen, Malia Cohen, London Breed, Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell. Supervisor Wiener believes the bill will go a long way in helping to stem the city’s current housing crisis.

 

“When someone transitions to affordable housing or needs to transition to affordable housing we want to make sure they have a realistic opportunity to be able to stay in their neighborhood,” he said.

 

In the past few years, changing demographics and increased gentrification have contributed to a crisis in the San Francisco housing market. According to the San Francisco Bay Area Market Report, in the first half of 2015, the average sales price of apartment buildings with five or more units has jumped 82 percent since 2009 to $485 per square foot.

 

The current housing crisis directly impacts the city’s most vulnerable populations. LGBT seniors are at increased risk. Many LGBT seniors live on fixed incomes, and have been residents of rent stabilized apartments for many years. Further, LGBT seniors are less likely to have adult children to provide them with support. “They are really in need of support from the city to make sure they are stable in their housing and able to remain as valuable members of our community,” Supervisor Wiener said. “Housing is a key part of that.”

 

In 2014, Wiener secured a budget appropriation to create a new program to educate and provide outreach to the LGBT community regarding affordable housing. As a result, Openhouse, the San Francisco-based LGBT senior agency, provides services to assist seniors in this process.

 

“We’ve seen an increasing level of displacement whether it’s an official eviction or some other way where the owner is able to get the tenant out of the apartment..and the LGBT community has definitely been impacted by this problem.”

 

When asked as to whether 40 percent was a sufficient number to accommodate neighborhood applicants, Wiener said, “Forty percent was quite aggressive and very sensible under the law. Some people wanted to go further, but we went as far as we could go legally.”

 

Construction has begun at 55 Laguna Street, a 116 unit complex near the intersection of Laguna and Market. The location is the address of Richardson Hall on the former U.C. Berkeley extension campus between Hermann and Haight. Residents who live in the adjacent area, or within a half mile of these project are able to enter a lottery to live in the building. Thirty-nine units, or approximately 40 percent of the building’s units are allocated for low-income seniors 55 or older. Additionally, six of the senior units will be assigned to people living with HIV or AIDS and at-risk for or have been chronically homeless.When completed in the summer of 2016, the rehabilitation also will include a new permanent location for Openhouse to provide expanded services, programs, and activities targeted to the LGBT senior community as well as all seniors city wide. 55 Laguna will be the country’s largest, affordable housing community specifically welcoming to LGBT seniors.

 

According to the Openhouse website, another housing project will take place at 95 Laguna Street. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and will be completed in 2018. A project at 95 Laguna will provide another 79 units for low-income seniors in a new seven-story building. The development also will include an 8,000 square-foot senior activity center operated by Openhouse to serve the wider senior community.

 

“The LGBT community historically has not accessed affordable housing at the levels that we like to see and we’ve been trying to do more education in the community to make people know there is an affordable housing program in San Francisco,” Wiener said. “We have to make sure people understand that they need to proactively sign up and get into these units and to do so not when the eviction notice arrives.”

 

In order to be considered for 55 Laguna, residents must be 55 or older and household income level will need to be 50 percent of the area median income. In 2015 the meidian income for a one-person household was $35,700 and for a two-person household it was $40,750.

 

To sign up for the lottery and get more information about future projects, local residents can contact Openhouse at (415)296-8995 or go online to sign up at http://openhouse-sf.org. Information can also be found on the website for the Mayor of San Francisco at http://www.sfmohcd.org.

 

In the next few years, a total of 300 units would be available for local residents in the Upper Market area between Castro and Octavia. Wiener believes that although these projects are important, more housing needs to be built to address the needs of the city’s low income residents. “Having these units come online will be very positive for the neighborhood but it’s only the start,” he said, “We need a lot more affordable housing in the Castro/Upper Market area and throughout the city. We have a lot of work to do.”

 

More articles about LGBT housing

November 2015

Jan 2015

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

AIDS Housing Alliance Gets 25K Boost

 

 

AIDS Housing Alliance has been on the front lines fighting for affordable housing and against homelessness in the HIV/AIDS community since 2004, when Founder and Executive Director Brian Basinger quite literally had a dream that let him know in no uncertain terms that this was his calling. His list of accomplishments has climbed sky high over the years, breaking through old barriers and boundaries along the way.

 

Wendy: It’s such a crazy time for the housing market right now. It seems like it has really snowballed as of late, where things have gotten completely out of control. People are scrambling trying to deal with this in an equitable way but it is a lot to keep up with. How has the situation with the imbalance of income and the housing boom affected your clientele and the work that you do at AHA?

 

Brian: There are many great organizations who’ve been involved in the housing justice movement for a long time who are our comrades, like the Housing Rights Committee, Eviction Defense Collaborative and the Coalition on Homelessness. Our message hasn’t changed. We’ve been sounding the alarm for a long time. I think what it is reminiscent of is, “First they came for the gypsies and I said nothing ‘cause I wasn’t a gypsy.” What’s happened now is that the housing crisis has been going on for a long time, but it has jumped the shark, and it’s trickled into the mainstream. It’s actually flooded the mainstream and so now we have to pay attention to it. Everybody’s friends, their neighbors, everybody is personally feeling the fear that they’re next. Unfortunately, what that also means is that for the people further upstream who were getting squeezed before, the situation has become unmanageable. For senior or disabled folks who are predominantly the people that we work with, even though we work with people from 18 years old to - my oldest client is 97, so we serve the gamut but for the low income people who we were waving the flag about 12 years ago who are existing on Social Security, before we used to be able to cobble together a path for them. For many years we had an assembly line where people were losing their homes because of real estate speculation, 50 percent of the homeless people with AIDS that we surveyed, evictions were the primary deriver of their homelessness.

 

Wendy: Your agency has helped to advocate for some changes in the law in terms of who can be Ellis Act evicted by way of making those landlords who prey on the weakest among us, who have less of a way of fighting for themselves, you have somehow advocated a way for those types of landlords to be put at the bottom of the list for condo conversion, no?

 

Brian: Yes. One of the interesting things about being in this job for such a long time is you start to have a history, really being able to look back on a series of accomplishments and being able to affect change. It kind of has a cumulative effect that the more you achieve, the more you feel like you can achieve. It helps [one to] keep going because you do get a sense of success. Even though the entire situation is pretty profound right now, it’s nice to be able to have a sense that there are things that you can do. We were 10 months old when we passed that legislation you referred to, which is the No Fast Pass to Eviction. What that really came from was, back in a previous career when I worked in - those days it was called dot com, now it’s tech, but I had gone through two IPOs, and I had also run the personal finance channel and the travel channel where I worked. I knew that investors are looking for an exit strategy and that they’re really looking the time value of money. It’s about getting in and getting out really quick. I thought that if I could disrupt their exit strategy that I could influence the way that they were investing their capitol, in a way that helped provide protection for vulnerable senior and disabled renters.At the time 80 percent of all of the Ellis Act evictions were in buildings with senior or disabled people in them. I know that because I went down to the rent board. We went and got the information about every single Ellis Act eviction in the city, and put it into a spreadsheet and made a map. I color coded the map for evictions of senior and disabled folks. So yes, I was able to put those real estate owners who did not evict a senior or disabled person, we put them to the front of the line in the condo conversion lottery. It had it’s intended effect and significantly changed the eviction landscape in the city almost immediately.

 

Interestingly, I also knew that homelessness and housing instability was a main driver of the behaviors that lead to HIV infection. When people are homeless it’s harder to make choices. The science shows that people who have homelessness or housing instability, their behavior [that] can lead to the exchange of the virus increases by two and a half times, so there’s a huge intersection between behavior that puts people at risk for all kinds of things and housing status. We also have this other data that shows how especially gay men with AIDS were being, and still are being targeted for eviction because they happen to live in neighborhoods that became very desirable. That was back in 2004 and enough time has passed now that before our legislation, No Fast Pass to Eviction, the annual HIV infection rates for years could not get below 1000 people a year. Now we get to look back and see that right after my legislation passed is the first time that HIV infection rates had gone under that 1000 people mark.

 

Wendy: That’s amazing. And aside from the preventative aspects of things, of keeping homelessness from happening in the first place, your agency provides a wealth of services for people who have a temporary shortfall. What are all the services that AHA provides?

 

Brian: We’ve been really fortunate that it seems whenever I encounter an obstacle in achieving our goals and our outcomes, which is stable housing, that we can develop innovative programs to address whatever that obstacle is and get the funding to make it happen. It’s really just whatever frustrates me. I try to help somebody and if something gets in my way I get really frustrated and I have to fix it. Over the years I have now been able to assemble every type of financial assistance that I know of, and I don’t know any organization that does everything that we do. If you picture a ladder of emergency financial aid for people experiencing a housing crisis, we can start with emergency hotel vouchers, so we can put people up at a hotel for a week. Those are for people who have a more permanent placement pending. Let’s say we’re in the middle of getting them into affordable housing, They’ve been couch surfing and the person kicks them out and they’ve got nowhere to go. I don’t want to lose touch with them and not be able to get across the finish line, so we can stabilize them in a hotel for a short period of time while we finish the move in process. That’s one week we can even do a day. The next rung in the ladder is move-in deposit or first month’s rent. Somebody’s been homeless and finally secures their housing and they need $1500, $3000 to move in. That’s a really big barrier to ending homelessness, so we’re able to provide assistance with that as well. The next one is back rent. Let’s say they lose their job; they’ve got another job but they’re about to get evicted ‘cause they haven’t paid their rent in a couple of months. If they lose their housing they’re gonna lose their job. Then they become homeless on the street and it’s really hard to get out of that. Why on earth should somebody lose their long term rent controlled housing when we know that all [we’ve] gotta do is get them over this hump and they’ll be ok. We can do back rent assistance for that. The next one is what’s called short term rental subsidies. I can pay somebody’s back rent, but let’s say they’ve been approved for Social Security, but they’re not gonna get their Social Security check for two months, so I’ll pay their back rent and I’ll give them a short term rental subsidy to get to that next place. The next one up is, we actually have what is called needs based rental subsidies. That’s the ongoing rental subsidy and those are for senior or disabled people. I’m really thrilled to get that because now, for those senior or disabled folks, sometimes their rent exceeds their income and they’re running out - their life savings is ending and they’re gonna lose their home. We can actually put them into an ongoing rental subsidy so they don’t have to lose their home. I have three people who are in their nineties who are in that subsidy program. There’s no reason that we should have a 90 year old become homeless in San Francisco - just no! No. It’s not ok. That was also the first rental subsidy program in the nation that is targeting LGBT seniors. The last one that we’re able to do also now is a permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people with HIV and AIDS. In our world that’s everything. All of the things that somebody can do for someone, we’re now doing. The only other thing I can do is buy a building or have someone give it to me; that’s the only other mountain I can conquer!

 

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Local Marketing Guru for Small Biz

 

Lawrence Nathanson, Castro resident

 

 

Laurence Nathanson is a Castro resident with extensive experience in online marketing. His 27-year career has included everything from heading up game software licensing in Asia to doing video production and social media marketing in boutique local firms.

 

Now he has put together his two passions - video production and online marketing - in a unique digital marketing agency. Its goal is to generate ongoing new customers and build effective long-term relationships for service provider companies.

 

Online video in 2016 has become a significant factor in the online marketing mix, currently accounting for over 75 percent of all consumer internet content. Nathanson found that a majority of consumers agreed that by watching a video profile on a professional service provider or location based company, it had a big influence on them engaging with that business. The lesson from this, in Nathanson’s view, is that if a business is not currently using online video to market their business, they are missing out on a very effective customer generation tool.

 

How does the Imagination Media’s online video and social media process typically work? “It is very much demand driven,” explains Nathanson. “We first research the most popular keywords that consumers are typing in to Google to find each client’s location and business segment. Then we create a script utilizing that exact keyword combination in order to optimize search engine results.” At this point a film crew records the client reading the keyword and customer focused script from a teleprompter and edits in additional footage and music to achieve the polished result.

 

The Imagination Media team then works to get the video ranked on page one of Google, where over 71 percent of all clicks take place. This process, known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO, can take one to three months to achieve first page rankings and then ongoing work to keep the video on page one after that.” Laurence is particularly proud of the fact that Imagination Media has a no-risk proposition in their Google page-one guarantee, so that if your video falls off page one in any month, the monthly SEO fee for that month is free.

 

In addition, the company utilizes targeted Facebook and YouTube advertising to fill the prospects funnel so results can be seen very soon after a video production.

 

What types of business benefit the most from online video marketing? From architects to contractors, from accountants to lawyers, dentists to plastic surgeons, event spaces to spas, and everything in between - all these businesses would generate new customers from online marketing. What they all have in common is that in the end they are consumer-facing businesses and committed to long-term customer values.

 

For more information, check out the Imagination Media website at www.imagination.media or contact Laurence Nathanson directly at (415) 940-7500 or laurence@imagination.media.

 

The Super Bowl Fan Village is scheduled from Jan. 30-Feb. 7.Organizations like the Castro Merchants, the Office of Economic Workforce Development, Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, and the Castro Community Benefit District have all been vocal about their concerns about the loss of business and inconvenience to commuting Castro residents that the Fan Village will cause. However, very few merchants or organizations have actually been included in the festivities.

Wave of property crime hits Castro

© Castro Courier 2014