Grove Header- White.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

CNY home care workers celebrate major pay bump

State Sen. Rachel May (back row, third from left), pose alongside home care workers, advocates, and a community member who relies on the employees at a news conference celebrating a wage increase, May 6, 2022.
Matt Fairfax
/
WAER News
State Sen. Rachel May (back row, third from left), pose alongside home care workers and a community member who relies on the employees at a news conference celebrating a wage increase, May 6, 2022.

Home care workers in Central New York and across the state are celebrating what they’re calling a tremendous victory after significant pay raises were included and approved in the new state budget. An extra $3 boosted pay to $16.20 per hour, which represents a 20% increase over two years. Brian O’Malley, executive director of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York, said agencies and individuals who hire home care workers were acutely aware of the staffing crisis.

“We knew firsthand that raising the wage, the minimum wage, a poverty level wage for most people, would be the number one thing we could do to address that staffing shortage,” O'Malley said.

Sen. Rachel May, whose district includes Syracuse, helped secure what she calls the largest ever investment in home care wage increases in New York.

“The hope is with that increase," May said. "And an additional increase the following year will make this a more attractive job so more people can find the home care they need, stay in their homes, not have to go into nursing homes.”

Despite the initial cost, May said the state saves twice as much in reduced Medicaid bills because people are receiving care at home and not in facilities. Syracuse activist Agnes McCray used a wheelchair, and said she’d been in the self-directed personal care program for nearly three decades.

“Not everybody can be in assisted living," McCray said. "Not everybody can be in a nursing facility. Right now, those nursing facilities and assisted living are so stressed.”

McCray said the home care services had helped her stay independent, successful, and able to raise her family. She said it was part of the continuing evolution of health care.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at srwillis@syr.edu.