Adams boosts pay for 80,000 human services workers

Mayor Eric Adams addresses a recent event.
Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor of the City of New York

New York City Mayor Eric Adams last Thursday announced a US $741 million investment for an estimated 80,000 human services workers employed by non-profit organizations with a city contract as part of a new cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

The mayor said the human services workforce — which is overwhelmingly female at 66 percent and 46 percent women of color — remains on the frontlines of the most pressing issues facing the city as they deliver vital services across housing, food access, health services, and asylum seeker services, among other areas.

The Adams administration’s investment in a new COLA represents a critical step towards delivering pay equity across race and gender for a workforce that provides lifesaving services across the city.

With Thursday’s announcement, to date, the administration has invested over $1.4 billion towards wage enhancements for the human services sector.

“When things get tough, we must invest in our most valued asset: the people who are on the frontlines solving the most pressing issues facing our city,” said Mayor Adams. “Human service workers are the hands and heart of New York City, providing 24/7 work that benefits all New Yorkers. From navigating our city during the darkest days of COVID-19 to caring for asylum seekers to tackling our homelessness crisis and so much more, human service work is often tiring and thankless, but the workforce is essential to our city.

“I am proud that our administration is delivering human services workers the pay raise they deserve, and putting money back into their pockets,” he added. “By offering fair pay, we are creating a fairer and more equitable city, especially for this largely women and women of color population, and ensuring that New York City is not just the greatest city in the world to live, but also the greatest place to work, especially for those who sacrifice so much to serve others.”

Building on a 7 percent workforce enhancement in the Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget, Adams said human services workers will see the following COLA: 3 percent effective Jul. 1, 2024; 3 percent effective Jul. 1, 2025; and 3 percent effective July 1, 2026.

Adams said that, under his leadership, the city has made significant investments and enacted policies to support the human services workforce and put money back into the pockets of New Yorkers.

The Adams administration worked with the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) on the ‘Clear the Backlog’ initiative, now unlocking over $6 billion and allowing nonprofits to get paid for their vital services.

Together with New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, MOCS, and the Mayor’s Office of Nonprofits, Mayor Adams announced a new reform for discretionary contracts that will eliminate red tape and make it easier for nonprofits that contract with the city to get paid on time.

The innovative reform eliminates a total of nine months of discretionary, contracting processing time for nonprofits every year, beginning in the out-years for applicable contracts.

Additionally, Adams successfully fulfilled a campaign pledge to work with Albany lawmakers and secure an enhancement of the New York City Earned Income Tax Credit, benefitting over 800,000 families and strengthening the city’s social safety net.

As part of “Accessible, Equitable, High-quality, Affordable: A Blueprint for Child Care & Early Childhood Education in New York City,” the Adams administration reduced the per child co-payment or out-of-pocket cost of subsidized child care for a family earning $55,000 a year from $55 a week in 2022 to $4.80 a week.

Adams said last Thursday’s announcement builds on his administration’s continued efforts to support working-class New Yorkers.

For the city’s workforce, in just two years, and a little more than a year after its first agreement with DC 37, the Adams administration has successfully negotiated contracts with unions representing nearly 95 percent of the city’s workforce and 100 percent of the city’s uniformed workforce — the quickest any mayoral administration has reached that milestone in modern city history.

“Our essential human services workforce, the majority of whom are women and nearly half are women of color, deserves to be paid fairly for the critical services they provide for New Yorkers in every community,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Today’s announcement of a $741 million investment in cost-of-living adjustments for 80,000 human services workers represents an important step in the right direction towards fulfilling our obligation. The City Council has advocated for investing in this vital workforce and will continue to support building upon our commitments to ensure their success.”

“Human service workers and leaders have worked for years for this moment. This agreement – to provide a three percent cost-of-living adjustment in each of the next three years, along with a workforce enhancement – is a testament to their sacrifices in our city’s moments of need,” said Michelle Jackson, executive director, Human Services Council. “I’m proud to stand with the Just Pay movement and Mayor Adams in celebrating a fair deal that honors the tireless work of the sector and treats our workers as the essential pieces they are in the fabric of our communities.”

“This COLA is absolutely essential for an essential workforce that has long gone underrecognized,” said Dr. Damyn Kelly, president and chief executive officer, Lutheran Social Services of New York. “My staff and the over 80,000 human services in New York City are the second lowest paid workforce in the city because of decades of underinvestment. Human services jobs are good, caring, community jobs, often held by women and people of color. The people who do these jobs invest in our communities, and we are grateful Mayor Adams is investing in them.”

“We applaud the mayor’s office for funding a three percent cost-of-living adjustment each year for the next three years for the human services workforce,” said Wayne Ho, president and chief executive officer, Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC). “We thank the strong support of the New York City Council and the tireless advocacy of the Human Services Council and the Just Pay Campaign membership. I have seen firsthand the dedication and hard work that CPC’s human services workers pour into serving our community members day in and day out, and we are excited that the city is recognizing our workforce. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with the mayor’s office and city council to ensure that the human services workforce continues to be uplifted and supported.”

“Encore Community Services extends our gratitude to the thousands of dedicated human service employees who tirelessly advocated for this COLA, and to our elected officials for listening and taking action,” said Jeremy L. Kaplan, executive director, Encore Community Services. “Every hard-working New Yorker deserves a livable wage, including human service workers who have long been undervalued. The inclusion of a cost of living increase in the proposed budget is a crucial step towards fair compensation for those who serve as our city’s lifeline.”

“We deeply appreciate the mayor’s initiative in providing the COLA of 3 percent for Fiscal Year 25, 26 and 27 for nonprofit human service providers,” said Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, president and chief executive officer, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens. “This is a sign of the mayor’s true appreciation for the employees working in the field of human services.”

“As all New Yorkers continue to struggle with an affordability crisis and rising inflation, this Cost of Living Raise couldn’t have come at a better time for workers who have long been underpaid and undervalued,” said Murad Awawdeh, president and CEO, New York Immigration Coalition. “Human service workers are the glue that keep our cities working through direct assistance and support to community-members in need during good times and bad ones. Thanks to the Just Pay Coalition and the mayor, the valuable work of this predominantly women of color workforce is finally being recognized as critical and essential today and into the future.”

“The Network applauds Mayor Adams and Speaker Adams for prioritizing human service workers with a much-needed and overdue Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA),” said Pascale Leone, executive director, Supportive Housing Network of New York. “Throughout the pandemic and beyond, these dedicated individuals have served as the backbone of our communities, showing up when many could not, and playing a vital role in the city’s recovery by safeguarding our most vulnerable tenants in supportive housing from falling through the cracks. This COLA is a testament to the city’s recognition of the hard work and dedication exhibited by our colleagues in the human services sector.

“It is beyond time that we care for our caretakers, and we appreciate the city’s commitment to doing so,” he added. “We extend our gratitude to HSC and the #JustPay advocates for their tireless efforts that have led to this historic day.

“The human service workers who dedicate their lives to caring for and supporting children, families and older adults keep New York City strong,” said Melissa E. Aase, MSW, M.Div, chief executive officer, University Settlement. “The deep resilience of our communities is in large part built upon the vast array of human services our teams provide that directly impact millions of New Yorkers, and indirectly support ALL New Yorkers. We cannot do this without true partnership with our government leaders, and a three-year COLA is a powerful and positive step that will meaningfully strengthen our partnership.”

“Little Flower deeply appreciates the substantial multi-year commitment by New York City to raise wages for our skilled and dedicated team of direct care workers,” said Corinne Hammons, president and chief executive officer, Little Flower Children & Family Services of New York. “These are significant numbers, but it is not ultimately only about the numbers – it is also about valuing this profession that helps so many New Yorkers with life-changing services now and for decades to come. We are a proud member of the Human Services Council and remain a dedicated part of its JustPay campaign as we continue to work for true parity for our workforce.”

“Each night, Urban Resource Institute offers critical support to individuals and children affected by homelessness and domestic violence. Families arrive seeking refuge, often with little more than the clothes on their back, and they are met with compassion and expert care from our staff, aiding their healing process,” said Nathaniel M. Fields, chief executive officer, Urban Resource Institute. “Amid soaring domestic violence and homelessness, the significance of our team’s work, and the human services sector at large, cannot be overstated. We appreciate the support from Mayor Adams, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, and Speaker Adrienne Adams for recognizing the importance of our staff with the COLA. This support not only acknowledges the crucial services provided but also uplifts a workforce largely composed of women of color. We look forward to working with the administration and city council to tackle the root causes of poverty, homelessness, and violence.”