This is a letter to the editor written by Larry Roberts, a Systems Advocate at the Finger Lakes Independence Center. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit a letter to the editor, please send them to Matt Butler at mbutler@ithacavoice.com.

Governor Kathy Hochul should join the NYS Senate and Assembly by backing Fair Pay for Home Care in this year’s budget.

New York’s population is aging rapidly — but the state is facing an urgent crisis: we don’t have enough home care workers to care for older adults and disabled people. In fact, New York currently faces the worst home care shortage in the nation. And the shortage is only growing worse as our population keeps aging, and older adults increasingly search for nursing home alternatives.

We need more home care workers to care for the state’s older adults and disabled community, but the state pays home care workers poverty wages — as little as $13.20 an hour in many counties — and prioritizes institutional settings.  Home care workers who love their job are leaving the sector in droves to find better paying jobs.

We need to combat the state’s dangerous home care shortage to keep older adults and disabled people safe — and the way to do it is by including Fair Pay for Home Care in this year’s budget – which would raise home care wages to at least $35,000 a year on average.

Fair Pay for Home Care Act would wipe out the home care workforce shortage in less than five years, keep older adults and disabled people safe and out of nursing homes, and bring 200,000 new home care workers into the field.

In all, the state would see over $1 billion in net state economic benefits through job creation and moving home care workers off of social assistance — putting this budget priority on track to be one of the most successful economic development programs in the state’s history.

And the home care sector is overwhelmingly women, immigrants and people of color — so fair wages would create new jobs for historically underpaid communities.

More and more New Yorkers are joining together to say: It’s time for New York to care for older adults and disabled people — by investing in home care that will keep us and our loved ones safe and at home.

Can we count on the governor to stand up and fight for Fair Pay for Home Care in this year’s budget?