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New York worker co-ops and advocates are urging state lawmakers to invest in home care sector

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Cooperative Home Care Associates member-owners at a rally for investment in the caregiving sector. [photo: David Greene]
NCBA CLUSA member Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) is joining calls for New York state lawmakers to invest in the home care sector amid a statewide shortage of caregivers.

Along with other worker co-ops and advocacy organizations, CHCA is working closely with the New York Caring Majority to support the #FairPay4HomeCare campaign. Re-launched last month, the campaign is highlighting the urgent need to raise wages for home care workers. New York is facing the nation’s worst caregiver shortage.

Advocates say the Fair Pay for Home Care Act would create quality jobs for New Yorkers, support seniors and people with disabilities and help rebuild the economy by paying home care workers a just wage.

Specifically, the legislation would set base pay for home care workers at 150 percent of local minimum wage, allowing workers to earn up to $35,000 per year. According to PHI, the nation‚Äôs leading authority on the direct care workforce, the median annual earnings for home care workers are only $19,200‚ÄĒmore than $10,000 less than annual earnings for nursing assistants in nursing homes. Furthermore, 57 percent of home care workers rely on public benefits to make ends meet, PHI has reported.

At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic means home care workers are experiencing front-line exposure while caring for vulnerable communities‚ÄĒadding a layer of risk to the industry‚Äôs existing hardships.

Without meaningful investments in the home care sector, advocates say the workforce shortage will worsen, forcing seniors and people with disabilities to resort to more expensive and less preferred institutional care. While home care cooperatives like CHCA provide consistently higher salaries and better benefits than traditional agencies do, they still face limitations operating within a broader environment that doesn’t value the work of caregivers.

‚ÄúIn order for cooperatives to thrive, we need to not only own our labor, but we need to shift our economy to one that values care,‚ÄĚ the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives said on social media last week.

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