Fair Pay for Home Care in NY!

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

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To: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
From: [Your Name]

Dear Gov. Cuomo, Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie,

Home care workers are essential. As the leaders of our Executive and Legislative Branches, we urge you to make New York a national leader by enacting a bold plan to value and invest in this fast-growing workforce that our communities depend on to live and age with dignity. Home care is a vital, high-skill job, and now is the time to value it as such. Investing in home care workers will help us meet our population’s care needs and will help reinvigorate the economy.

The New York Caring Majority is a movement of seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, home care workers, and advocates from across the state. We organize for universal health care, universal home care and dignified care jobs. We are fighting for an economy with care at the center, where all of us have the healthcare and home care we need, and where we show we value care work by providing care workers family-sustaining wages and benefits.

We, the New York Caring Majority, call on you to:
*Invest in the home care workforce, and bring home care workers' wages to 150% of minimum wage, reflecting that this work is high-skilled, essential work that deserves more than the minimum wage (A6329/S5374);
*Pass A10451 (Gottfried)/ S8361 (Rivera), which requires private insurance companies to reimburse the cost of Personal Protective Equipment for home care agencies
*Fund the Home Care Jobs Innovation Fund to determine innovative ways to improve job quality in the home care sector, and improve recruitment and retention of a qualified home care workforce (S4222)

As the population of older adults grows, so does the need for caregiving and an improved system to provide home and community-based long-term care services and supports. NY Caring Majority members have always known how essential home care workers are to our ability to live and age with dignity in our own homes and communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven just how essential home care workers are. They have allowed so many of our loved ones to remain safely at home, and they will play this instrumental role long beyond this crisis.

While underscoring the value of home care, the COVID-19 crisis has also exacerbated existing hardships that afflict the workforce - hardships that force workers to leave to seek better paying jobs, causing a devastating workforce shortage that will only grow.

According to PHI, New York will need to fill over 800,000 job openings for home health and personal care aides between 2016 and 2026. It will be nearly impossible to fill these openings if home care worker pay remains extremely low - according to the NY Department of Labor, the annual earnings for home care aides is $18,600. In addition to wages, problems with transportation, especially in rural parts of the state, uneven and erratic scheduling, and lack of benefits contribute to the challenge of recruiting and retaining workers.

If we don’t improve the quality of home care jobs and make meaningful investments in this sector, the workforce shortage will worsen, causing seniors and people with disabilities to resort to institutional care — the more expensive and un-preferred option.

Now more than ever, we need to rapidly expand the workforce in order to meet the growing needs of our aging population.

Now is the time to provide fair pay for home care.