‘Fair Pay for Home Care’ campaign launched to curb caregiver shortage crisis in New York

At New York state is experiencing the worst crisis in the country due to the shortage of personnel to carry out the work of care in the home, and one of the main reasons for this is the low salaries that these caregivers receive. And to try to put an end to this situation, in a health emergency plan due to COVID-19 and that mainly affects the elderly and people with disabilities, a channel of organizations and elected officials launched the campaign on Tuesday ‘Fair Payment for Home Care‘.

With this initiative, presented by the State Attorney General Letita James and the Ombudsman of the Big Apple Jumaane Williams, together with members of the 1199 and AARP organizations, is expected to promote the approval of the state law ‘Fair Pay for Home Care Act’ which, according to a study by the CUNY Graduate Center, will spur the creation of more than 250,000 new high-paying jobs for women throughout New York, including 181,000 of them from minorities.

“Homecare workers are unsung heroes who worked around the clock during the darkest days of the pandemic to provide care and comfort to the most vulnerable,” James said in a statement.

And when referring to CUNY data that also shows that women represent 91% of this workforce statewide, and of them the 77% are from minorities, mainly Hispanic and African American, the Attorney General noted that mainly “it is these women of color who are being chronically underpaid and undervalued. It is time that we treat them with the same respect and dignity that they generously offer to our older adults and the most vulnerable, by passing the Fair Payment for Home Care Act ”.

A crisis in the middle of another crisis

And this crisis of caregiver shortages could not have come at a worse time, amid the health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic. And precisely one of the main negative consequences of this situation is that many of the elderly and people with disabilities who have not been able to find someone to take care of them in their own homes, have had to be taken to nursing homes in where they have faced the risk of catching the virus.

“The pandemic has shown how important it is to be able to receive high-quality care in our homes and has exposed the lack of support from the State for the people who carry out this work; As we recover from the pandemic, we cannot allow this crisis to continue, ”Williams said.

The Ombudsman also highlighted that this current home care crisis in the New York State “It has left caregivers with a salary close to poverty and has led older people and people with disabilities to forgo the care they need. Albany it should include the Fair Payment for Home Care law in next year’s budget so workers can receive fair wages, providers can guarantee the best possible care and more future caregivers join the industry. “

Another data they highlighted was that due to low wages and irregular hours, 57% of home care workers currently receive public assistance and the 49% live in or near poverty.

Additionally, research has found that low wages are the single biggest determinant causing the worst home care shortage in the state. Given that New York’s population over 65 is estimated to grow 25% over the next 20 years, the current labor shortage is projected to increase exponentially: New York will have more than 600,000 seatss of home care work by 2026.

The same research also found that recovering COVID-19 patients have fared much better in home care than in nursing homes.

Great support in Albany

The Fair Payment for Home Care Act currently has bipartisan support in both houses of the State Legislature, with 79 sponsors in the Assembly and 33 sponsors in the Senate. If passed, the State would see revenue increase totaling $ 5.4 billion through job creation and allowing many home care workers to shift their dependence on welfare.

“Like health care, like child care, the ability to be cared for as an older adult in the familiarity and comfort of your own home is not a comfort. By treating it as such, we have allowed the market to drive wages for this critical job so low that now almost 20% of home care positions are vacant, ”said the State Senator Jessica Ramos.

Meanwhile, the Assemblymember Jessica Gonzàlez-Rojas, said the coronavirus pandemic “has revealed what many of us have known for so long to be true, that our health care delivery system continues to leave many of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, including older adults, without care. and people living with disabilities. These are our partners, our parents, and our loved ones. We must invest in caring for these New Yorkers, which means we must approve fair payment for care in the home. This is an imperative of economic justice, gender justice and racial justice ”.

Benefits of the Fair Payment for Home Care Act:

  • 2,5000 new jobs for women over the next decade would create the law.
  • 181,000 new jobs for women of color over the next decade.
  • The Fair Payment for Home Care Act would create
  • 351,000 women who are currently homecare workers would receive a fair wage increase.
  • 288,000 women of color who are currently caregivers would be included in those who would receive fair wages.