San Francisco Filipino Community Rally on Tuesday at City Hall to save non-profits endangered by funding cuts

San Francisco’s estimated American Filipino population of nearly 50,000 (about 7 percent of the city), still gets no respect.

A new recommendation for spending $9 million of city funds for disadvantaged families has just been released.

And guess what? No Filipino non-profits that directly serve the community are included.

There’s hundreds of thousands of dollars for YMCA programs throughout the city (nearly $700,000 to the Hunters Point/BayView Y alone). There’s $650,000 for the Instituto Familiar de la Raza in the Mission. Another $500,000 for the APA Family Support Services in Chinatown. The money trickles down to other neighborhoods and groups throughout the city. But there’s not one Filipino anything in the mix.

$9 million in funds and not a penny for American Filipinos. Are our families in San Francisco doing so well?

Not according to Rudy Asercion, executive director of the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center in San Francisco. He knows what’s happening on the streets of the city. In the last year, he says his non-profit has helped numerous families hit so hard by the recession they are literally in the dark.

“When families get evicted or the electricity is cut off, they come to West Bay for help,” said Asercion. “In last 6 months alone, we’ve had families who’ve gone six or seven days without electricity. Then they come to us and the lights turn on.”

It’s not easy to let there be light. West Bay runs on a tight budget of around $200,000, mostly from small grants both corporate and private. The after-school program alone costs about $60,000 to run. But it all helps to provide a lot for Filipino families in need.

Asercion talks about success stories like Sarah Ramos, a 4.0 student from Everett (my alma mater). Sarah’s family was homeless until they came to West Bay. The organization was able to get Sarah and her family housing and food stamps. The kids were immediately placed in the after school program. In addition, West Bay helped Sarah, who has a medical issue, get treatment immediately. In the fall, she begins her first year at the city’s prestigious Lowell High School (also my alma mater).

But for every Sarah, there are others who find themselves on a different track in the South of Market. Because of immigration policies, wives and children often come first to America, leaving the husband behind. When families are apart, too often they break up.

“The husband gets a girl friend, then the wife gets a boyfriend, and the young children get confused,” said Asercion. He sees it affect the children at his after school program as it thrusts them into a predictable death spiral.

So now it’s ad all around with parents without jobs, kids without purpose, and now service organizations without funds to help these people cope.

That’s why the $9 million in city funds was considered a critical source of funding for organizations like West Bay. It was the lead applicant in a package which included smaller non-profits that serve the Filipino community (The Filipino Senior Resource Center by Mint Mall, the Family Resource Center, South of Market Employment Center and the South of Market Clinic). West Bay, being the longest standing organization of the group, took the lead. It asked for $317,000, a fairly modest amount.

But when the final recommendations were made West Bay was snubbed. No other Filipino based organizations were listed.

Asercion said without an infusion of these funds, existing programs at West Bay will be threatened.

“This will shut off a big percentage of West Bay’s operation,” Asercion said. “We’ll be constrained to our after-school program.”

But that’s a small part of what West Bay does. Failure to secure funding from the city means that those who work on other outreach projects, like social workers, including tutors and counselors, may soon join the ranks of the people they help—the struggling American Filipino families of San Francisco.

It’s hard to imagine why politicians can so easily ignore the needs of the community.Asercion says he has had an inquiry from Board of Supervisors President David Chiu about the situation. But Asercion says it’s really Mayor Gavin Newsom’s call. The panel that made the recommendations, and the committee that will approve it all, are all made up of Newsom devotees.

A final hearing before the Children and Families (First 5 San Francisco) Commission, is  set for this week.

That means there’s still time to rally.

If you can’t make the rally, Asercion says call Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office at 415-554.6141.

Urge Newsom to make sure American Filipino families in need are not ignored.

Solidarity Rally
City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, California 94102
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 5PM