Today in my Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee, the other Councilmembers on my committee – Councilmembers Bagshaw and Harrell – and I discussed Resolution 31388, supporting the goals of the Caring Across Generations campaign. Joining us at the table were two caregivers, Sylvia Liang and Kassandra Gonzalez. Home health care workers are among the lowest paid workers in the service industry, making little more than the minimum wage. Last year, more than one in every five Washington home care workers and their families lived in poverty.
Sylvia and Cassandra had very compelling stories (watch at about 70 minutes in) about the difficulties they face as home health care workers, including low wages, few benefits, and lacking access to health care, training, and career advancement. All of these things put at risk the quality care of the people we love.
In February, I wrote about the launch of the Caring Across Generations campaign, the Seattle Care Congress, a town-hall style event with more than 200 attendees. A couple weeks ago in order to learn more about the campaign, I walked in the shoes of Janet Rodriguez , a home care provider. The goal of the campaign is to transform long-term care for:
- Our loved ones who are supported by caregivers
- The workers who provide the care
- And the families who struggle to find and afford quality care for their family members.
Ten percent of the Seattle population is 65 or older and the number of people needing home care will continue to increase in the future. For them, as well as people with disabilities, we need to ensure a dignified quality of life. If my resolution passes, Seattle will be the first city in the country to pass local legislation on this issue. Last week, Senator Harkin from Iowa released a senate resolution supporting a strong home care workforce, as well as making long-term services and supports affordable and accessible to elders and people with disabilities.
This campaign will take several years; I’m proud that Seattle will be first out the gate to lead the effort.
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