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 on community strength approach in 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.
The Veterans Equity Center first opened its doors to the public on December 1, 1999.
The organization observed a growing number of low-income, immigrant older adults accessing its services.To address the growing needs of the community and demand for services, coupled with the high mortality rate among its original consumers, the Veterans Equity Center expanded its mission and formally changed its name to the Bayanihan Equity Center (BEC) in 2018.
The BEC expanded its services to include, housing assistance, food pantry, exercise class for older adults, community choir and arts and crafts. BEC serves as an activity center for the older adults and adults with disability in San Francisco, especially for the South of Market residents.