Senior Services in Alameda County

SSC must champion reliable and relevant funding for community-based supportive services to meet the needs of Alameda County’s rapidly growing older adult population.
– SSC’s 2017 Policy Agenda

Today in Alameda County, half of all seniors are economically insecure. Over 20% are food insecure. One third report fair or poor health status. One in seven experience frequent mental distress.

Community-based services and supports are a necessary part of the equation in helping older adults meet the challenges of aging and thrive in communities of their choosing. These services and supports not only complement medical care and help seniors maintain economic stability, they often provide life-line interventions.

Recent Developments

March 22, 2017 – The aging services ecosystem in Alameda County is sustained in part through federal funding. With recent changes in the political landscape, we knew that this funding might be at risk. Now we know.

Last week the new administration released a “skinny” federal budget proposal. While it is broad brush in many respects, it proposes specific cuts to key funding streams that sustain the aging services ecosystem – among them the elimination of Community Development Block Grants that many communities rely on to help fund meals on wheels and other lifeline programs. Also singled out for elimination is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that helps low-income seniors who can’t pay their utility bills, and the Senior Community Employment Program.

Economic insecurity is the single most significant threat to the stability of low and moderate income older adults in our community today. Solutions that improve access to food, housing, healthcare, cash assistance and community-based supportive services have powerful positive impacts on seniors’ economic security. This is one reason why the administration’s budget, which, even in skinny form, eliminates great swaths of core safety net programs, is unacceptable.

The skinny budget does not provide any information on the administration’s intent to cut (or spare) Older American’s Act programs and many other services that help older adults navigate the challenges of aging. However, deep cuts are proposed for Health and Human Services, where the OAA resides, and to other departments.

But the prospect of cuts to aging services is all the more terrible when we remember that federal funding has been under great constraint for over a decade, thanks to the 2013 Sequestration deal. Funding for many programs is less now than it was in 2010, completely inadequate to address current needs and an aging population that is growing at breakneck speed.

A detailed federal budget proposal will be released later this Spring. Cities, counties, states and communities need to think hard about this new administration’s budget proposal, and whether we will accept it. None of us can afford to lose the aging services infrastructure that we have today.

Click here for more details in a presentation on federal threats to aging services that SSC Director Wendy Peterson made to the March 17 Roundtable meeting.

June 15, 2016 – On Thursday, June 9, Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi presented a proposed FY 2016/17 budget to the Board of Supervisors. A balanced, maintenance-of-effort budget that addressed a $72.2 million gap. The $7.3 million cost savings target assigned to Public Assistance/Social Services Agency was handled entirely with revenue increases and adjustments. Click here to go to the County’s Budget website where you can download the proposed budget document and presentation.

The next stage in the budget process will be later this month, when budget hearings are set for June 22 at 1pm (Health and Public Assistance), June 23 at 1pm (Public Protection, General Government and other Issues) and June 24 at 1:30pm (Final Deliberations). The Board of Supervisors will adopt the final budget on June 28 at 1:30pm.

May 31, 2016 – California’s budget decisions have significant impact at the local level. So when the Governor’s May Revise confirmed that no significant cuts were in store for the next fiscal year, County budget policymakers breathed a collective sigh of relief that no last-minute crises would derail their efforts to balance the County’s 2016/17 budget.

According to the County’s Maintenance of Effort Budget, the County faces a projected $72.2 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year – up from last year’s $65.1 million gap. Like with previous years, the County’s Budget Workgroup has looked at each of the four divisions – Public Assistance/Social Services, General Government, Public Protection and Health Care Services – and their respective projected deficits. The Workgroup then agreed to assign reduction targets for each division. At the April 26 Budget Workgroup meeting, Public Assistance/Social Services Agency was projected to have an $8.9 million gap, about half the size of last year’s gap. SSA Director Lori Cox has confirmed that SSA’s 2016/17 budget includes continued Augmentation funding for senior services, and the over $900,000 in funding is not at risk.

The meeting presentations are available on the county’s budget website at http://budget.acgov.org/#. The proposed County budget will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors on June 9. Budget presentations and discussions will take place on June 22, 23 and 24, and the final budget will be adopted on June 28.

May 17, 2016 – The Alameda County Board of Supervisors are planning a $500 million Affordable Housing Bond Measure for the November 2016 ballot. The draft Housing Bond language allocates funding to three program areas: Homeowner Programs ($75 million in a revolving loan fund), Rental Housing Development ($400 million) and Innovation & Opportunities Fund ($25 million).  The draft currently identifies seniors as a target population for the $400 million Rental Housing Development Program (along with homeless, veterans, workforce housing/working poor, and people with disabilities), and for $10 million in accessibility/home modification loans.

Click here to see the details laid out in the Housing Bond Overview presentation given to the Board of Supervisors Housing Bond Work Session on April 25, 2016.

Click here to go to SSC’s Policy Advocacy Alerts page to find out how you can provide input to the planning process.

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