Bayanihan Equity Center
The Bayanihan Equity Center, formerly the Veterans Equity Center, is a nonprofit organization located in the South of Market of San Francisco. BEC has been serving the community for the last 19 years. Originally established to provide services for Filipino World War II veterans, BEC has expanded its services to include low-income seniors, families, people with disabilities, immigrants, LGBTQ, formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals. BEC assists these groups through case management, counseling, free legal clinic, health services, and affordable housing opportunity assistance.
Under the Immigration and Naturalization Reform Act of 1990, more than 100,000 Filipino Veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces, in the Far East from 1939 to 1946, became eligible for naturalization. A little over 60,000 of these veterans immigrated to the United States and became U. S. Citizens. These veterans did not qualify for Veterans Benefits, and the majority of them became dependent on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), soup kitchens, and the support of volunteers.
In 1998, service providers, individual members of the community and a number of Filipino World War II Veterans started the Veterans Equity Center Task Force. The task force was comprised of individuals with years of experience in providing services to minority seniors and Filipino World War II Veterans. There was a high need for housing, case management, counseling, legal assistance, health services – just to mention a few. Rooted in a community strength approach in terms of service delivery, the task force developed the “one-stop-shop” system of care service delivery that stabilizes and bridges the gap between the existing services in the community and veteran population in need of services. BEC finally opened its doors to the public on December 1, 1999. The BEC has provided services to over 2,500 veterans residing in San Francisco and neighboring counties.