Adria Powell: Broadly defined, [the care economy] is the work that underpins this country. It allows for all other work to occur, and it’s a huge driver and contributor to the overall work of this nation. In the home care sector, there’s incredible growth that’s going on as our country ages. In New York State, where I’m focused, we have a huge growth need for home care services…
New York State has the fourth-largest population of older adults in the entire country—16 percent of New Yorkers are over age 65. The older adult population is growing faster than any other segment in our state, and it’s expected to grow to 5.3 million people by 2030—and 1.2 million of those are folks who will be over the age of 80. When surveys are conducted, you see 90 percent of people want to be able to age or live with a disability in their homes. People are not generally interested in having to be in nursing homes or congregate care settings. We’re all much more comfortable in our own homes and communities, where we are connected to our loved ones, networks, and the things that we know.
[Care economy] work is disproportionately done by women of color, immigrant women, and people of color. The job—unfortunately, because of historically who has done it—has been devalued and underpaid. Paid caregivers lack support, having limited benefits and limited control over their work[ing] conditions. In New York, we’re talking about a population that has to survive. More than half (57 percent) of New York home care workers are reliant on some sort of public subsidies, and 49 percent lack affordable housing. So, we’re struggling to attract and retain workers for the growing population, and we are faced, within New York State, [with] the worst [workforce crisis in the nation], as people need more and more services. We’re seeing people with less access to the services, but more and more need is emerging.
This article originally appeared in the Nonprofit Quarterly. See the original article here.