Three letters to the editor of the Daily Freeman addressing the needs of the day: Housing the Displaced, Advancing Climate Initiatives, and a Living Wage for Home Healthcare Workers
We need a long-term solution to house the displaced
For decades, the Department of Social Services has used motels as an emergency and temporary housing solution for displaced residents. Yet, no system has been created to replace the inadequate motels, boarding homes, and shelters that DSS currently relies on. Why haven’t any politicians come up with a long-term solution?
Community members are losing their housing, jobs and even custody of their children because they are living in inhumane conditions. Ceilings are covered in mold and deteriorating on children as they sleep. The water is turned off without notice. Rooms
have broken or no locks, compromising the safety of residents. This lack of safety leads to disruptive sleep patterns for fear of unwanted visitors. This has been especially dangerous for survivors of domestic violence. Things need to change now!
The pandemic magnified the housing crisis and as a result the DSS, City of Kingston and Ulster County governments have done nothing to protect the most vulnerable residents. In Ulster County, Comptroller March Gallagher’s. “2021 Ulster County Emergency Housing Snapshot”, reports that Ulster County spent over $3.8 million at 15 motels, almost all of which have complaints of mold, contaminated water and terrible air quality. As we move forward, there is no sustainable large-scale plan to secure safe housing for the poor and working-class residents.
At what point is enough enough?
Our Ulster County legislators and City of Kingston officials have refused to act and it’s only a matter of days before someone gets
killed because of mold poisoning, water pollution, a ceiling caving in . . . or worse.
Kudos to New York governor for advancing climate initiatives
Gov. Kathy Hochul previewed a robust set of climate initiatives in her State of the State speech, (“Heahh care, climate change crux of NY governor’s 2022 plan,” Freeman, Jan. 5), which gave me hope for our future. Her investments in infrastructure for EV charging and offshore wind ports will move the state forward in meeting the clean energy goals of New York’s Climate Act of 2019.
Other climate initiatives that didn’t get top billing in the speech, but can be found in the detailed “State of the State Book,” are also significant. They include decarbonizing New York’s buildings, starting with prohibiting
fossil fuel hook-ups in new construction, in line with the proposed All-Electric Building Act.
That’s right: no boilers or gas stoves allowed. New homes would be fully electric, with heat pumps for heating and cooling, and appliances such as induction stoves, on-demand electric water heaters, and ventless, heat-pump clothes dryers. These new-era, energy-efficient appliances are powered by electricity that is increasingly generated emissions-free, as wind and solar power deliver more and more energy to New York’s grid. In line with this, Hochul also announced a commitment with funding to electrify 2 million homes by 2030.
Kudos to Gov. Hochul for advancing New York’s leadership on climate. Our lives, and those of our descendants, depend on it.
The writer is Outings Chair and member of the Executive Committee of the Mid-Hudson Group of the Sierra Club.
Home-care workers need a pay raise now
Ask almost anyone in New York state who needs healthcare support at home, and they will tell you there’s a crisis. Governor Kathy Hochuls recent State of the State speech seemed to recognize that, but fell short of full-throated support for a solution already at hand.
Home care workers are grossly underpaid, averaging about $13 an hour under Medicaid. This has led to shortages, with workers leaving the field while demand keeps rising. In fact, one out of four people who need such care can’t find any. At the same time, 76 percent of people who have care workers struggle to retain them.
This shortage of workers forces our elders and people with disabilities into nursing homes, with exorbitant costs, variable care, not to mention the continuing threat of COVID.
The solution is the Fair Pay for Home Care Act, a bill with impressive levels of bipartisan support in the state Senate and Assembly. It would raise worker pay to 150 percent of the state minimum wage, turning a poverty wage into a living wage, retain workers in this crucial field, and attract desperately needed new workers. A CUNY study last year showed that Fair Pay would even be a net positive for the economy.
In short, Fair Pay for Home Care is a jobs bill, a humanitarian bill, and an economic development bill in one package. To raise your voice in favor of this measure, call Governor Hochul’s office at (518) 474-8390 and tell her to include Fair Pay for Home Care in the Executive Budget.