Newsom restores funding for transgender program
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Mayor Gavin Newsom has restored funding for the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, which helps transgender people find jobs.
Tony Winnicker, Newsom's communications director, told the Bay Area Reporter last week, "There were a number of reductions in the initial proposal that the mayor was not happy about," including the proposed cuts to the transgender initiative.
The funding had been left out of the proposed budget that Newsom unveiled June 1.
His proposed $6.48 billion budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 closed a projected city deficit of $482.7 million.
"The budget is always a snapshot, and balancing the budget is in some ways a daily activity, a year-round activity," Winnicker said last week.
The funding for the initiative is almost $240,000, said Winnicker. Trent Rhorer, executive director of the Human Services Agency, previously told the B.A.R. that contracts for the transgender initiative are pegged at $270,498.
The initiative is a collaborative effort that includes the Transgender Law Center, the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, and Jewish Vocational Services.
"We were so happy to hear from the mayor's office that TEEI had been saved," Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, said in a statement. "Many community members and allies came out in support of TEEI. We are incredibly grateful for everyone's hard work in making sure that this critical program could continue to help alleviate chronic unemployment among transgender people."
The initiative, which started about three years ago, has helped more than 125 transgender people gain employment, according to program officials.
Winnicker said given "unacceptable" unemployment rates and the state of the economy, "nothing is more important ... than a program that can help someone get a job."
Rebecca Rolfe, executive director of the LGBT Community Center, said in a statement, "TEEI is a vital resource for the transgender community and restoration of this program is an incredible victory. That victory is possible because of the amazing advocacy done by the community and by our great allies at City Hall, led by Supervisor Bevan Dufty. The mayor and the Board of Supervisors heard the strong voices of the community and we thank them and thank the many people who came out to speak about the importance of TEEI to the community."
Dufty, a longtime supporter of the initiative, said in a phone interview that the restoration is "very heartening to the transgender community and the many individuals and agencies collaborating for TEEI, because the program is so strong. It's disheartening to feel like you're facing elimination."
The Human Services Agency had proposed cutting the funding after the mayor's office told the agency in April to identify $12.6 million in reductions, but the city's Human Services Commission later rejected the cut.
Next year's budget is currently under discussion by the Board of Supervisors.