By Jensen Caraballo: For Complete Post, Click Here…
I am angry—angry that Fair Pay for Home Care was not fully funded in New York’s budget in January 2022. And angry that the small pay increase that was approved won’t solve New York’s severe shortage of home care workers. This crisis has forced me to go without much-needed assistance every weekend. I have found myself in the hospital twice because of a lack of care. I need home care because I’m a 32-year-old disabled person with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2.
I can’t live without home care workers. They help me get washed up, dressed, and into my chair. They clean my home, travel with me, and so much more. Without them, I’d be forced to return to a nursing facility; I fought hard to get out of there—for good reason.
Living in an institution was traumatic; I had no autonomy. I needed to live according to their schedules and policies. I witnessed violence, abuse, and neglect towards disabled people on a regular basis. I advocated fiercely for home- and community-based services, long term services, and support. Now I find that those resources are being ripped from under me like a rug, and I’m falling.
I’m not alone. There are many thousands who can’t find or keep care workers. According to “The Case for Investment in Higher Pay for New York State Home Care Workers,” a report by CUNY Graduate Center’s School of Labor and Urban Studies, “a 2018–2019 statewide survey of home care agencies found that, on average, 17 percent of home care positions were left unfilled due to staff shortages.” The reason? They only make $13.20 an hour, not enough to live, let alone thrive. New York’s budget raises this rate by only $2 an hour starting in October 2022, then another measly $1 the following year.