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December 7, 2009

Putting New Yorkers Back to Work

Velázquez introduces bill to increase job opportunities for public housing residents

NEW YORK – Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today unveiled legislation to provide New York City’s public housing residents with the training and certification needed to secure new jobs.  As the City’s unemployment rate remains above 10 percent, the Congresswoman is helping New Yorkers find work in home healthcare services.  During a visit to the Bushwick Senior Center, she discussed how her bill would create 6,000 jobs in New York City alone, while simultaneously increasing assistance for thousands of senior and disabled tenants. 

“This effort meets the needs of our community by helping to lift public housing residents out of poverty and providing care for those who need it most.  We need to find creative, new ways to help New Yorkers get back to work, and this bill does just that,” said Congresswoman Velázquez.

The “Together We Care Act of 2009” establishes a three-year federal pilot training program specializing in home healthcare services.  Public housing residents will be given the opportunity to receive home health services training from organizations certified by the state.  Following certification, the newly trained aides would be matched with elderly or disabled individuals who are Medicaid-eligible.  The legislation would provide the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with $2.5 million per year to support the effort.

“Home care is a profession that will be in high demand for years to come and this legislation will offer hard-working public housing residents with the tools they need to enter this field.  By training New Yorkers in a certified trade, we can help turn the local economy around,” Velázquez said.

Due, in part, to demographic trends, the home care profession is expected to continue growing in the coming decades.  By 2030, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older.  To help seniors remain in comfortable, non-institutionalized settings, home care workers will be needed and it has been estimated that the field will expand by 51 percent between 2006 and 2016.  In addition to helping older Americans live independently, home care is a cost-effective option for providing assistance to seniors.  The expense of nursing home care is more than double that of providing home care for an individual.

“More than one-third of our City’s public housing households are headed by an elderly person, and the need for caring, competent aides is increasing rapidly.  This legislation will help keep families together and strengthen the bonds between neighbors,” Velázquez said. 

The “Together We Care Act of 2009” will be introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives.  At today’s press conference, Velázquez was joined by representatives from AARP, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s largest health care union.   All of the groups have endorsed the bill and are calling for its swift passage.