Sonoma Home Care Providers Campaign for Strong Contract with Higher Wages

May 13, 2024
Posted in Union Updates
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Sonoma home care providers — mostly women — appeal to Supervisors for higher wages and solutions to county caregiver shortage (April 17, 2024 Press Release)

Click here to read a profile of Sonoma County IHSS provider Andrea Loveday-Brown (published on May 13, 2024).

Listen to Sonoma IHSS Provider Daria Perez De Velazquez speak to Hecho En California about the current campaign for higher wages:

Sonoma County home care providers care for older adults and people with disabilities, enabling them to live safely and with dignity in their homes. They provide a critical community service.

Yet many Sonoma County IHSS workers struggle to make ends meet due to low wages and inadequate benefits. They make $17.35 an hour while the area living wage (for one adult with no children) is estimated to be $27.15 an hour.

These conditions have contributed to a serious IHSS provider shortage in Sonoma County. More than 1 million authorized care hours went unused in 2023, nearly 10% of the total. Addressing this shortage is urgent because the population of adults 60 and older in the area is expected to increase by 145% from 2010 to 2060.

That’s why Sonoma County home care workers have been showing up at Board of Supervisors meetings, sharing their stories, and raising their voices.

The message is simple: more than 6,000 IHSS providers in Sonoma County need increased pay and improved benefits so they can continue their vital work supporting community members in need.

  • “It’s hard,” says Erika, a caregiver since 2010. “I have to have two jobs in order to make it, and I wish that IHSS would pay more because we definitely deserve more. We do a lot for our community, and being a caregiver is very demanding. Not everybody would want to do this job. After so many years, your body gets tired and we have no type of health coverage.” 
  • “I have an adult son living with me who is on the autism spectrum, and I am his caregiver,” says Anne, a caregiver of 5 years. “Food prices are higher and rent is outrageously high. I end up sitting on bills because I am unable to pay them on time. Everything is a struggle.”
  • “I am proud to help care for my family member. The cost of living is in Santa Rosa is so high that my pay barely covers the rent. I struggle to make ends meet month to month, and bills like PG&E, garbage, and phone are always paid late,” says See, a caregiver of 24 years. “I know higher wages will help my family continue to live in this area. Providers should not have to suffer month to month while working hard to keep our loved ones safe at home.”
  • “I am especially proud to be a healthcare provider when I hear a client say thank you with a smile,” says Victoria, a caregiver of 15 years. “I work a full-time job at night so that I can take care of my client part-time during the day. I can’t eat the types of food that are the best for me because I can not afford it. I have my client’s life in my hands. I make sure they go to appointments, they have clean clothes at home and they take their medications correctly. I feel that as a caregiver, we are not taken as seriously as we should.”
  • “Nursing home agencies pay $25.00 per hour. If we made that, I could cut my workload to two clients,” says Linda, a caregiver for 40 years and an IHSS provider for six years. “We would have enough workers so that I could do this without feeling guilty for abandoning someone who needs help. I am 68 years old, and it is difficult to handle four clients.”
  • “Increased wages would give us providers even more pride in our work because we would feel appreciated and compensated,” says Terrance, a caregiver since 2020. “It would also help the local economic outlook if were able to afford basic necessities without putting another bill or utility at risk.”

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