ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Experts say nearly one million New Yorkers will require home care by 2035. It’s estimated that 90% of those working as home care workers are women. But advocates say they’re underpaid and underappreciated.

“We’ve assumed that women will do caregiving work for free,” said Senator Rachel May. Last year, home care workers received a three dollar raise above minimum wage. The 2022 budget included indexing that to minimum wage, but advocates are saying the Governor is now backsliding on her original plan. “So the Governor has proposed merging home care wages with minimum wage as minimum wage rises, we don’t wanna see that happen we want to keep it above minimum wage,” said Senator May, who’s sponsoring the proposal.

That’s why they’re asking to increase their pay to 150% of the minimum wage. Kim Alleyne who has been a home health aide for 15 years said the job requires a diverse set of skills that not everyone has; especially when caring for the elderly. “You find they’re back to the stage of a toddler, you gotta do everything for them… Keep them clean and tidy. Some of them you gotta feed them, physically. Cut the food in small pieces,” she said.

Joe Stelling, Associate State Director for AARP NY said part of this proposal is about keeping people out of nursing homes, “For us, this is about supporting family, caregivers, and helping their older loved ones live in their own homes and communities where they want to be, right? And we can’t do that if the care workforce isn’t there to support those folks.” Stelling said the real danger is that home care workers can easily leave their jobs for one that pays the same amount, but require less work. “But we know the more you pay, the more you attract good workers, and not just attract, but retain,” he explained. NEWS10 will keep you updated as to whether or not the Governor includes the proposal in the state budget.