Portrait of senior mother hugging with adult daughter

AAAs Speaking Up for #FairPay4HomeCare

On December 15th, eight offices for the aging in the Leatherstocking and Capital Region caucuses partnered to conduct a press conference on the necessity of the State government investing in wage increases for the homecare workforce. The campaign to achieve #FairPay4HomeCare is being carried out by a coalitions of organizations including not only AgingNY, but the New York Association on Independent Living, the Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State, NY Caring Majority with the support of Hand-in-Hand: The Domestic Employers Network, Jews for Economic and Racial Justice, and numerous individual older adults, disabled people, and homecare workers.

The press release for the event on the 15th as well as photos, are below:

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2021
Press Contact: Monica Klein, [email protected], (917) 565-0715

Eight Counties’ Offices for the Aging, Older Adults & Disabled New Yorkers Launch “Fair Pay for Home Care” to End Home Care Crisis

New York faces worst-in-the-nation home care shortage — older adults and disabled people left without care or sent to nursing homes during Covid-19

Speakers release new data revealing Fair Pay for Home Care Act will create new jobs for over a quarter of a million women, including 181,000 for women of color

SCHOHARIE COUNTY — Eight directors of the Offices of the Aging from Schoharie, Fulton, Sullivan, Columbia, Otsego, Montgomery, Greene and Delaware counties today joined home care workers, older adults and disabled people to launch the Fair Pay for Home Care Campaign to end the state’s worst-in-the-nation home care shortage by raising home care wages through the Fair Pay for Home Care Act (S5374, A6329). Speakers released new data from the CUNY Graduate Center revealing the Fair Pay for Home Care Act will create jobs for over a quarter of a million women, including 181,000 for women of color, across New York State. The Long Island press conference kicked off a series of campaign launches around the state this week, with public events in New York City, Hudson Valley, Syracuse, Schoharie County & Long Island.

At the launch, the New York Caring Majority released new data from the CUNY Graduate Center on the effect of the Fair Pay for Home Care Act on women and people of color in New York State. New York’s home care workforce is currently 91% female and 77% people of color.

Key findings include:
The Fair Pay for Home Care Act would create over a quarter of a million new jobs for women over the next decade

The Fair Pay for Home Care Act would create 181,000 new jobs for women of color over the next decade
The Act, which will raise home care wages and wipe out the home care shortage, would provide fair wages to 351,000 women who are currently home care workers, including 288,000 women of color.

Facing low pay and irregular hours, 57% of New York State home care workers currently receive public assistance, and 49% live in or near poverty.

Read the full CUNY Graduate Center data analysis here.

Research has found low wages are the single largest driving factor causing New York’s worst-in-the-nation home care shortage. With New York’s 65+ population slated to grow 25% in the next 20 years, the current workforce shortage is projected to increase exponentially: New York will have more than 600,000 home care job openings by 2026. Additionally, research has found that recovering Covid patients have fared far better in home care than nursing homes. The Fair Pay for Home Care Act currently has bipartisan support in both houses, with 80 sponsors in the Assembly and 33 sponsors in the Senate. If passed, the state would see increased revenue totaling $5.4 billion through job creation and moving home care workers off of social assistance.

“Home care workers are unsung heroes who worked around the clock during the darkest days of the pandemic to provide care and comfort for our most vulnerable,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Despite their tireless work, these New Yorkers – primarily women and women of color – are chronically underpaid and undervalued. It’s time we treat them with the same respect and dignity they generously offer our seniors and our most vulnerable by passing the Fair Pay for Home Care Act. Our way out of this pandemic and our path to economic recovery depends on it.”

“This legislation is about doing the right thing, plain and simple. New York State needs to make sure our most vulnerable populations are a priority and ensuring our home health care workers are fairly compensated is a significant step in that direction. I am a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Fair Pay for Home Care Act because it will help our direct service professionals and preserve a crucial lifeline to individuals in need,” said State Senator Peter Oberacker.

“More people should know of, and be alarmed by, the fact that about half of New York’s home care workers are living on the brink of poverty, and are lucky to earn more than $20,000 a year. The availability and well-being of home care professionals affects us all, whether we need care for ourselves or the people we love. Moving into the new year, ensuring that our home care professionals are paid fairly and that the industry will be able to meet the needs of our aging population should be a priority for us all,” said Assemblymember Chris Tague.

“The Association on Aging in New York fully supports the investment for Fair Pay for Home Care. Older individuals and their families deserve the right to age with autonomy, independence, and dignity in their homes and communities. The ability to age in place is dependent on having a robust home care infrastructure, which is currently in crisis. For far too long these home care heros have been underpaid, and undervalued, and we cannot continue to allow a workforce that cares for the most vulnerable members of our society to live in poverty. We implore New York State to invest in direct care professionals that have demonstrated home and community based services can successfully allow individuals to age in place, prevent skilled nursing facility placements, and provide an overall cost savings to the health care system,” said Becky Preve, Executive Director, Aging Association of NY State.

“In-home personal care services are reaching a critical stage in Greene County. Our vulnerable seniors are going without services or receiving services well below their need. This will continue to get worse over the next few years if we don’t address this problem now. The Fair Pay for Home Care Act is needed. It would provide service to our elderly residents and create new jobs which in turn would increase tax revenues. This would benefit the whole community,” said Shaun Groden, Greene County Administrator.

“Greene County covers 653.8 square miles. We have 3 distinct regions – the River towns, the Valley and the Mountaintop. It is extremely difficult to get aides as we have heard. However when you factor in the topography and the distance to the mountaintop, it is virtually impossible. We have instituted a location premium in our contracts if aides will work with clients on the mountaintop – This however has not resulted in aides willing to work in that area. The premium is not enough on top of the small wages. Unpaid time between clients which is significantly longer on the mountaintop coupled with the unreimbursed cost of travel to and from the mountaintop are preventing seniors from getting this service,” said Greene County Office for Aging Director Terry McGee Ward. “Fair Pay for Home Care could fix this problem by allowing us to continue offering a location premium on top of a living wage. This would prevent individuals going without services or becoming institutionalized while at the same time alleviate the need for these valuable workers to rely on public benefits to care for themselves and their families.”

“Sullivan County faces the same challenges as many other counties across NY State in finding staffing for our Direct Care workforce. Sullivan is approximately 1000 square miles, and to reach all areas of our rural county to serve those who need care to stay in their homes has long been a challenge, but the shortage is now at crisis levels. Supporting our direct care professionals with a living wage is the best way to address the needs of the workers and the people and families they assist,” said Lise-Anne Deoul, Director of Aging Services, Sullivan County Office for the Aging.

“Nearly every day, our staff speak with family caregivers who are so overwhelmed and burnt out they are in tears and don’t know where to turn, or aging residents who live alone and have no family around to help them and would sooner die at home with no support, then move into a nursing home. It’s time we value the hard work and dedication of home care aides and pay them a living wage to ensure we have an adequate workforce to provide essential services to the people who helped build, support and maintain our communities,” said Tamie Reed, Director of Otsego County Office for the Aging.

“We represent over 60,000 home care workers in New York State. We are fighting here in New York State to make sure that people have a right to live independently in their homes; people with disabilities, our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents. Home care workers save lives. But They cannot be home care workers if they cannot pay their rent,” said 1199 Executive Vice President Rona Shapiro. “If you want your loved ones to be taken care of, if you don’t want to be sent to a nursing home, pay the workers what they deserve.”

“AARP strongly believes that older New Yorkers who require long term care just be given the opportunity to stay in their homes, which is what the vast majority of these New Yorkers want, where they’re happier, and where home care can be delivered more efficiently and more affordably. Prioritizing these long term care services also means we have to ensure there are enough personnel to provide it. Unfortunately home care workers are in short supply due to low wages and scant benefits. The quality and the access to this care is all too often diminished by this shortage. AARP is proud to support this bill and we look forward to working with you throughout this session,” said Kevin Jones, AARP Associate State Director of Advocacy.

Attendees at the press conference to launch the “Fair Pay for Home Care” campaign included Schoharie County Office for the Aging Director Nancy Dingee, Fulton County County Office for the Aging Director Andrea Fettinger, Sullivan County County Office for the Aging Director Lise-Anne Deoul, Columbia County County Office for the Aging Director Kevin McDonald, Otsego County County Office for the Aging Director Tamie Reed, Greene County County Office for the Aging Director Terry McGee Ward, Delaware County County Office for the Aging Director Teri Whitney, Montgomery County County Office for the Aging Director David Jordan, New York Caring Majority, Hand-in-Hand, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, ARISE Independent Living Center, and New York seniors, disabled people, and home care workers.

About the New York Caring Majority: The New York Caring Majority is a coalition of organizations including Hand in Hand, Cooperative Homecare Associates, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of NY State, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Chinese American Aging Association, Live On, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and others who advocate for seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, and domestic and homecare workers in the state of New York.