Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Brown names gay man to homeless council


Gary McCoy. Photo: Sari Staver
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Gary McCoy, a gay man and advocate for people with HIV and those who are homeless, has been appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the 15-member statewide Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council.

The council was created last year when the governor signed Senate Bill 1380, requiring departments that administer state programs targeted to end homelessness to incorporate the core components of "Housing First" into their programs by July 1, 2019.

Housing First is an evidence-based model that uses housing as a tool, rather than a reward, for recovery and focuses on connecting homeless people to permanent supportive housing as quickly as possible.

McCoy, 39, is a policy and community affairs manager with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, a job he has held since March 2016. Prior to that, McCoy was chief of staff for former Supervisor Julie Christensen and had worked as an interim legislative aide to now-state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) when he was District 8 supervisor, and for Supervisor London Breed.

McCoy also served as an intern for Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) in 2012-2013 and managed Wiener's supervisorial re-election campaign in 2013 and 2014.

In a written statement, McCoy, who experienced chronic homelessness for almost a decade, said, "Given my experiences through my own past struggles, as well as the advocacy and policy work I've done in years since, I'm confident I will do an excellent job on this council. I'm a firm believer in the housing first model of care and recovery, and know firsthand the importance of reducing barriers to access housing in order to address homelessness.

"My personal experiences involved challenges around being gay, health problems associated with untreated HIV and a subsequent AIDS diagnosis, and an addiction to alcohol and drugs," McCoy added. "These are definitely important perspectives I look forward to bringing to the council."

Commenting on McCoy's appointment, Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said, "Gary McCoy has an intimate knowledge of what it's like to live on the street and what it takes to get off the street because he's been there himself.

"As a rising LGBTQ leader, Gary will be in an excellent position to be a strong advocate for all people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco, especially the LGBTQ youth who make up so much of San Francisco's homeless population," added Zbur.

One other San Franciscan, Gail Gilman, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Community Housing Partnership, which helps homeless people find housing, is a member of the statewide committee.

McCoy's other work includes stints on the LGBT advisory committee of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission; vice chair of the mayor's San Francisco Shelter Monitoring Committee; and a member of the California Democratic Party's disabilities caucus.

For the past six years, McCoy has serviced on the board of directors of the Castro Country Club and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.

A news release from Brown's office said that the position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.

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