Universal Community Care

If this past year of the pandemic and the economic uncertainty it has produced have shown us anything, it is that our city’s caregivers and care workers are essential to the health, stability and progress of New York City. Beyond that, the care economy—which includes paid and unpaid work across a variety of sectors—is the fastest growing industry for workers, particularly for women of color. Home healthcare is projected to grow at a breathtaking pace by 2026, with the sector expected to add 738,200 jobs in that span.

Yet for far too long, we have failed to recognize and respect that care work is REAL work. And the effect on the industry during the pandemic has been severe, especially for  women of color, who have dropped out of our city’s workforce at an alarming rate over the past year. In addition, the rising cost of care is placing an extraordinary burden on many families, especially lower income families and communities of color.

Investment in our care economy is essential, not only to support families and patients in need, but to grow our economy, return thousands of women to the workforce and ensure that our economic recovery leaves no one behind. Maya Wiley recognizes that care takes many forms in many settings—the community, the home and the workplace. Her Universal Community Care plan will send desperately needed aid to families, strengthen protections for care workers and establish a universal community care model for New York City.

To accomplish this, a Wiley Administration will:

  • Affirm that care work is community work, building an innovative new model for care service and delivery to uplift families and provide support for communities in need.
  • Support care work in the home by investing in annual grants to families that need it and finally providing an income for the thousands of caregivers in our city for their unpaid labor.
  • Improve pay and strengthen protections for care workers throughout New York City, advocating at the state, federal and local levels to guard against wage theft and improve benefits for thousands of workers.
  • Recognize and strengthen the intersection of care work and climate work, through increased investment in low-carbon, people-centered jobs and infrastructure

To establish care work as community work, we will:

  • Develop Community Care Centers in all five boroughs, establishing community multi-service centers which house conventional community programs from health care, jobs and training programs, activities for seniors, school children and teens, counseling, social services and cultural activities.
  • Ensure these centers serve 300,000 New Yorkers in the program’s first year of implementation and nearly 1 million people annually once the program is fully launched.
  • Create good, local, union jobs by mandating that center personnel will include City workers, as well as non-profit service providers.
  • Identify and build centers in underserved communities that do not have ready access to hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes and other essential service sites.

To support and invest in care work in the home, we will:

  • Establish a care income, sending $5,000 to 100,000 high need families across the city to help them afford the resources, medicine and other supplies they need to properly care for their children, elderly loved ones and families.
  • Target and alleviate child poverty by directing aid to lower income families in moderate or high-density poverty areas.
  • Empower families to make their own decisions when it comes to care and care work for their families and loved ones, directing funds to informal childcare providers and family care providers.
  • Provide voluntary training and education opportunities for informal and family caregivers to assist them in providing quality care to children and elderly loved ones.

To improve pay and strengthen protections for care workers, we will:

  • Grant more enforcement authority and allocate more resources for to the Paid Care Division of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, empowering the agency to target wage theft and ensure proper benefits and protections for all care workers.
  • Expand the definition of care workers covered by Paid Care Division enforcement to include case managers, early childhood education workers, and other direct service providers employed by nonprofit organizations.
  • Hold subcontractors accountable for wage theft, including in nursing homes.
  • Advocate for fair pay home care workers at the state level and invest in a portable benefits program for domestic workers.

Investing in care work in our city is not only the right thing to do morally, but economically. The care sector is rapidly expanding and our economic recovery as a city depends on boosting that expansion and expanding care work as a core piece of our city’s economic growth. Caregivers and care workers across New York City have been doing their work for generations without the recognition or pay they deserve. Maya Wiley will recognize that work and support it with a real investment in the workers—many of them women and women of color—who care for our city.