Vicious Cycle of Low-Wages, Worker Burnout and Short-Staffing are Hobbling San Francisco’s Fight Against Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Crime

Press Contact:
Zac Goldstein, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Communications Specialist (510) 207-3773, Scott Mann, Service Employees International Union Local 2015 Communications (323) 333-4850,
April 11, 2023

Nonprofit and Home Care Workers Call on the City to “Drive to $25” by Revising the Minimum Compensation Ordinance to Fully Staff Frontline Care Positions to Address City’s Most Difficult Problems

(San Francisco, CA) – On April 11, a coalition of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers and frontline human service workers will gather on the steps of SF City Hall to call on the City and County of San Francisco to increase poverty wages paid to workers responsible for combatting homelessness, addiction and caring for seniors and people with disabilities in San Francisco.

The workers say that low-wages and worker burnout have caused a short-staffing crisis that is crippling San Francisco’s response to its most challenging problems.

“You can’t win the city’s battle against homelessness, addiction and despair when your frontline troops are burned out, short-staffed and trying to stay above water on poverty wages,” said Theresa Rutherford, President of SEIU 1021, the union that represents 1,500 workers in nonprofits contracted by the City and County of San Francisco to provide a range of human services.

“At a time when San Francisco is in a care crisis, which includes 2.8 million In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) hours of care for our most high-risk population going unmet annually due to an inability to retain and attract caregivers because of low wages, we should be investing in a care infrastructure,” said Kim Evon, Executive Vice President of SEIU 2015 which represents over 24,700 IHSS providers in San Francisco.  “Programs like IHSS not only provide critical supports and care services to our seniors and people with disabilities and help reduce the risk of homelessness for those suffering from severe physical and mental impairments, but also brings millions of extra federal dollars into the county and saves taxpayer’s money as home care costs on average 4 times less than institutional care.  Investing in care is a win-win for all of us.”

What:Hundreds of Nonprofit and Home Care Workers Rally and Call on the City to “Drive to $25” by Revising the Minimum Compensation Ordinance

When: Tues., April 11, at Noon

Where: SF City Hall Steps

Visuals:Hundreds of nonprofit workers, homecare workers, members of the SF Board Of Supervisors, and community leaders chanting and holding signs that say: “Drive to $25: Frontline workers can’t fight poverty with poverty wages; Drive to $25: Invest in caring for seniors & people with disabilities; Drive to $25: We can’t fight homeless without frontline workers

IHSS workers are responsible for caring for homebound elderly and people with disabilities in  San Francisco. Frontline workers at many of the city’s 70 human services nonprofits are tasked with providing homelessness and housing services, addiction treatment, mental health services, AIDS/HIV prevention and other services. 

The coalition, which includes the San Francisco Labor Council, SEIU1021, and SEIU 2015, Teamsters 865, Jobs With Justice and others, call on the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to “Drive to $25” by lifting the minimum wage for nonprofit human services workers and IHSS workers to $25 an hour to help retain and attract qualified frontline workers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care and human services workers have fled the profession in droves. The “Great Resignation” —the movement of workers quitting their jobs in alarming numbers during the COVID era — already has cost the health care profession nearly 1.7 million workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industry experts believe America has lost as many as 20 percent of its health care professionals.

San Francisco fails to provide more than 2.8 million hours of human services and supportive care to San Franciscans because they can’t staff the work. Much of the cost of providing these hours is reimbursed by the state and federal government. San Francisco can’t afford to leave money on the table at a time when real investments are needed now to fully staff frontline care positions that can respond to the crises of care, homelessness, untreated mental illness and addiction.


The Service Employees International Union Local 1021 represents over 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs, and schools throughout Northern California, including seven private colleges and numerous community colleges. SEIU Local 1021 is a diverse, member-driven organization with members who work to make our cities, schools, colleges, counties, and special districts safe and healthy places to live and raise our families.

SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California, representing nearly 450,000 long-term care workers (home care, skilled nursing facility, and assisted living center workers) throughout the state. Its members are as diverse as the state’s population, but united in their commitment to caring for California’s seniors and people with the disabilities.