A new study out Monday is revealing a massive home care workforce shortage in the Hudson Valley.

Tyler Tunison is a home health care worker in Kingston. He, like hundreds of his colleagues, does the work because he loves it, but says he could benefit from better wages and benefits, as well as incentives.

“When I started doing it, I was so moved by the help that I was able to give other people,” he said.

What You Need To Know

  • A study released this week shows a major home care workforce shortage in the region

  • Low pay and few benefits are to blame for the shortage, per the study

  • Local lawmakers say the results aren't surprising, and there are bills in the works to address them

About 5,000 home care workers in the region leave the labor force or change occupations, with low pay and a lack of benefits to blame for the moves, according to a new report commissioned by the New York Caring Majority, a coalition of organizations that advocate for home care workers across the state.

Tunison joined other workers, advocates, and politicians in a conversation early Monday about the findings of this study. Senator James Skoufis, whose mother was a home health care worker, said the results aren’t surprising.

“One quarter of those very workers go home and collect food stamps and need subsidies to survive themselves. It’s wrong,” said Skoufis (D – Woodbury).

The median annual income for care workers in the region is just $18,400. While workers are leaving the industry, the need for more home health aides is on the rise, according to lead researcher on the project, Issac Jabola-Carolus, the project’s lead researcher from the CUNY Graduate Center.

“For instance, once completed, the Amy’s Kitchen factory in Goshen is expected to create 680 full-time jobs. By comparison, home health and personal care aide positions are creating almost double that number of jobs every year,” Jabola-Carolus said.

State Sen. Rachel May, chair of the Committee on Aging, said she hears the results of the study loud and clear.

“I have a couple of bills that we’ve been pushing,” she said. “One is to provide tax breaks to family caregivers … also, a jobs innovation fund that would identify and possibly replicate effective pilot programs for recruitment and retention of the workforce.”

Forthcoming recommendations from the study include the creation of a universal long-term care plan for New York state residents that offers long-term coverage for those who need it.