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Fostering Independence & Dignity

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the population of API seniors is concentrated heavily in the major metropolitan areas and particularly on the West Coast with more than 39,000 (API) seniors (age 65 and up) in San Francisco alone. At the same time, compared with other communities of color, API seniors have underutilized services offered through the national Office on Aging making up only 10% of the consumers while constituting 13.4% of the total population. Cultural and linguistic barriers, special needs of refugee elders, and the lack of community infrastructure are some of the obstacles to full participation by the API community.

Combating Elder Abuse

In the coming year, we plan to “take the show on the road” to community clinics, meal sites and door-to-door in SRO (single room occupancy) buildings. While our community partners have already reported an increase in the number of callers seeking help, we will continue to increase outreach and advocacy to ensure that all seniors are free from physical harm, neglect, or financial abuse.

In the past year, API Legal Outreach increased its emergency legal services to seniors in severe cases of abuse. Working hand-in-hand with advocates from Adult Protective Services, we have assisted seniors in obtaining restraining orders, negotiating the criminal justice system, and securing safety from their abusers. As part of our holistic approach to elder care, we also screen each case carefully beyond the stated needs of the consumer to address all ancillary legal and social service needs. For example, an elder survivor of domestic violence may need assistance with her divorce, in immigration, in securing public benefits or housing, or in drafting a separate will. Working closely with social service partners, we strive to address all legal and social service needs arising from these traumatic incidents.

In particular, in partnership with Chinatown Community Development Corporation and SRO Families United, we have targeted services to seniors isolated in the city’s Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units. Crammed two to a 10x10 room above some of the most prestigious restaurants in North Beach, these seniors are often easy targets of abuse and coercion, with limited access to resources and assistance. API Legal Outreach was honored by the city’s Adult Protective Services for its service “Above and Beyond” to this neglected population.

Increasing Advocacy and Awareness

As a founding member of the API Elder Abuse Task Force, API Legal Outreach has also continued to host and facilitate meetings, which brings together consumers, social service providers, and government agencies to share best strategies at identifying, raising awareness, and combating elder abuse in the API community. In mid-September, the API Elder Abuse Task Force hosted a symposium on senior rights targeted towards community service providers. Panels included the state of elder abuse in San Francisco, pursuing remedies short of legal action and scams against immigrant seniors.

API Legal Outreach staff also provides trainings and technical support to other organizations and agencies in the area of elder abuse in the API communities. Recently, the elder abuse project has provided trainings at Portsmouth Square, in the hallways of SRO complexes in Chinatown and the Tenderloin, Visitacion Valley Community Center, Vietnamese Elderly Mutual Aid Association, and Canon Kip Senior Center.

In connection with a grant by the Office of Justice Programs, API Legal Outreach is also working with San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and Kimochi to develop and implement a comprehensive, culturally competent elder abuse training program for police officers, district attorneys and court personnel.

Assisting Seniors in Need (Click here to download brochure)

We continued to provide a full range of legal services to seniors throughout the Bay Area in the areas of estate planning, long term care planning, consumer fraud, elder abuse, conservatorships and powers of attorney, public benefits, tax and immigration.

In one particular case, API Legal Outreach succesfully represented an 85-year-old Filipino man at a Medicare administrative hearing. Our client, living on a fixed income with his wife, was barely able to pay his daily living expenses. Medicare, however, attempted to charge our client $440 for ambulance services for transport from one hospital to another- ambulance services the hospital ordered. With the vigorous advocacy of a API law student and attorney, the client won his hearing and was not forced to choose between paying his rent and paying his bill.

API Legal Outreach vastly expanded its public benefits program in the past year, taking on cases, providing community education and outreach, and advocating in the areas of SSI, Medi-Cal, and Cal-WORKs At churches and senior meal sites sponsored by Westbay Pilipino Multiservices, Inc., Veterans Equity Center, Canon Kip Senior Center, CCDC, Kimochi, and Japanese American Services of the East Bay, we work closely with community partners to ensure that our services continue to be accessible to those most in need.

For more information, please contact Akiko Takeshita [atakeshita[delete]@apilegaloutreach.org].

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