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Lawmakers call on state to raise wages for home care workers

Home care.JPG
Ellen Abbott

Central New York health care providers are joining a statewide campaign to urge the state to pass the Fair Pay for Home Care Act.

Charles Hudson of Syracuse has been a home care worker for the last 2 1/2 years. He makes $12.50 an hour. Working full-time, that adds up to $24,000 a year. This proposed legislation would boost that income 150%.

“We’re looking to raise that to $43,000, so that home care workers do not have to make the decision to change jobs to make ends meet,” said Hudson.

Home care workers take care of seniors and people with disabilities. Research shows low wages are the single largest factor driving New York’s worst-in-the-nation home care worker shortage. Hudson said a lot of people opt for fast-food jobs that pay $15.00 an hour.

“It’s easier to do that than constantly put up all these hours and for very low pay,” he said. “Even if you work 40 hours or more than that, you’re barely able to make ends meet and pay the bills.”

Hudson said without home health care workers, more people are forced into nursing homes, which is ultimately more expensive for the state.

This is not a new issue, but it has now become a crisis, according to State Sen. John Mannion (D-Syracuse). The legislation didn’t make it into the budget last year, but Mannion is optimistic the Hochul administration could have a different take on the issue.

"I hope with the new governor there is a new mindset,” Mannion said. “We also have a new commissioner in OPWDD. I think we have reached a point where we have acknowledged there is a problem, and that’s a good place to start."

The state’s budget process begins in January, when Gov. Kathy Hochul presents her spending plan to the State Legislature.