New York, NY – May 25, 2023 – In the bustling metropolis of New York City, a hidden army of compassionate individuals labors tirelessly to uplift the most vulnerable members of our society. They are the human service workers, and their dedication and commitment shape the fabric of our community. Their story, however, goes beyond the noble narrative. It is a tale of numbers—a testament to their immense impact and the urgent need for change.
According to The New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) ‘State of the Sector 2023’ report, New York State is home to a staggering 116,834 nonprofit organizations. These organizations are the lifeblood of our communities, addressing pressing issues such as poverty, homelessness, and education. But their significance extends far beyond their missions. These nonprofits collectively employ over 1.4 million New Yorkers—workers who devote their lives to making a difference.
To grasp the magnitude of this figure, let’s put it into perspective. These 1.4 million human service workers represent a staggering 17.8% of all private employees in the state. It surpasses the combined number of individuals employed in construction, finance, and manufacturing industries. Human services workers generally make about 71% of what government employees make, and 82% of what private sector workers receive for the same role.
Behind the statistics lie the faces of individuals who have made it their life’s mission to support others. They are the case managers ensuring that individuals have access to essential services, the educators helping English language learners navigate a new language, and the advocates fighting for social justice. Their impact reaches every corner of our city, touching the lives of countless individuals and families.
Let us consider the significant consequences to our community in the event of NMIC (Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation) ceasing all operations, resulting in the temporary discontinuation of essential crisis and self-sufficiency services that an average of 572 clients rely on each day:
- 210 households would be deprived of a full week’s worth of nourishing food, leaving them vulnerable to hunger and food insecurity.
- 120 English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students would miss out on essential instruction, hindering their language acquisition and limiting their opportunities for success.
- 98 clients would be denied critical assistance in case management and employment placement, leaving them without the necessary support to overcome their challenges and find stability.
- 46 community members would be left without access to crucial advocacy and legal counsel, depriving them of essential guidance and representation.
- 40 tenants would miss out on housing-related policy advocacy and legal representation, leaving them without a voice in matters affecting their living conditions and rights.
- 31 survivors of domestic violence would not have access to our trauma informed counseling and advocacy services, leaving them without counseling, support groups, crisis intervention, and an array of other programs to help survivors heal.
- 13 clients would be unable to receive the necessary immigration intake services, leaving them without vital support and guidance in navigating the complexities of immigration processes.
- 12 community members would be unable to benefit from therapy sessions, denying them access to much-needed mental health support and healing.
- 2 individuals with disabilities would lack access to the invaluable resources provided by NMIC’s Disability Advocacy Project, depriving them of assistance that enhances their quality of life and promotes inclusion.
These numbers reveal the significant impact of human services workers and underscore the urgent need to support and value their essential work. Their absence for even a single day would leave hundreds of individuals and families without the crucial services and support they depend on. It is a stark reminder of the invaluable role these workers play in our community and the importance of ensuring their fair compensation and recognition.
These figures paint a stark picture of the countless lives that would be affected by the absence of human service workers. However, despite their remarkable dedication, human service workers often find themselves grappling with the harsh reality of poverty wages. The compensation they receive falls far short of what is needed to sustain themselves and their families. It is a painful irony that those who uplift others are themselves burdened by financial insecurity.
Sadly, the recent Executive Budget proposed by Mayor Adams has overlooked a crucial component: a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for human service workers. This oversight undermines their contributions and fails to acknowledge the fundamental importance of their work within our city.
In solidarity with the Human Services Council (HSC) and various organizations across the city, including NMIC, we are rallying behind this cause. On May 25th, we will safely suspend 30% of our programs and come together at the intersection of Murray St. and Broadway Avenue. Our aim is to raise awareness and advocate for a 6.5% COLA for human service workers. Together, we strive to rectify this discrepancy and ensure that these indispensable individuals receive the fair and livable compensation they so rightfully deserve.
We call upon Mayor Adams and city officials to recognize the immense value of human service workers and the critical nature of their work. A fair and reasonable cost-of-living adjustment is not only an investment in the welfare of these individuals but also an investment in the well-being of our entire city.
Join us on May 25th, 2023, at 11:00 am, at the intersection of Murray St. and Broadway Avenue, where human service providers will unite to send a clear message: #JUSTPAY US MAYOR ADAMS – WE DESERVE A 6.5% COLA.
Let us stand together to honor and support the indispensable role of human service workers. By advocating for equitable compensation, we can build a stronger, more compassionate city that values the well-being of all its residents.
Maria Lizardo, LMSW is executive director of NMIC.