Advocates work with Council Member to ensure home care workers are paid livable wages – New York Nonprofit Media

Home health aide

Advocates call for livable wages for home health care workers

The Fair Pay for Home Care act hopes to increase home care workers’ wages

A new New York City Council resolution calls for minimum wages for home care aids through the funding and approval of the state’s funding of the Fair Pay for Home Care act. The act also requires at least 150% of the minimum wage for home care aids, or other set minimum, and sets regional minimum rates of reimbursement under medicaid and managed care plans, according to the resolution introduced by Council Member Crystal Hudson, chair of the Committee on Aging.

The resolution comes as options for long-term-care have been limited. From 2018 to 2019, a statewide survey of home care agencies found that, on average, 17% of home care positions were left unfilled due to staff shortages. One in four home care workers also were found to have been living below the federal poverty line. More than half were relying on public assistance.

“Unfortunately, due to government sanctioned low wages, New York is currently facing a worst-in-the-nation home care shortage,” said Allison Nickerson, Executive Director of LiveOn NY. “This shortage – which leaves too many older New Yorkers without the care they need to remain in community – can only be addressed by investing in Fair Pay for Home Care to ensure that all home care workers are paid a minimum of 150% of the minimum wage.”

LiveOn NY, an advocacy organization that represents more than 100 nonprofit organizations that help older New Yorkers, hopes to see the legislation pass as the new female-majority City Council brings care issues to the forefront early in the term.

In addition to the current challenges faced by home care agencies, COVID-19 brought on concerns over access to personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and vaccines. 

“We have a chance now to show homecare workers in New York that they are valued. Even before the pandemic, homecare workers have borne the brunt of unfair and exploitative labor practices and meager wages that have ultimately resulted in the worst shortage of homecare workers in the nation.” Hudson said. “I introduced this resolution because it is personal to me. I cared for my mother for eight years as she lived with Alzheimer’s disease, and I was able to keep her at home because we had an amazing team of homecare workers who treated my mother as their own.”

“Passing the Fair Pay for Home Care Act addresses systemic inequities that plague an industry largely made up of women, people of color, and immigrants. We have the tools to solve these injustices and we should.” Hudson added.

Currently, the campaign to pass the Fair Pay for Home Care act is one of the largest campaigns on the state-level and has bi-partisan legislative support.

“Everyone deserves that type of care, and the ability to age safely in place, at home, with dignity. But that cannot happen unless we treat homecare workers with the same respect and compassion they provide our loved ones, and it should not be the case that we demand they work long hours with little to no compensation.” Hudson said.