Association for Community Living Urges Action from the Governor in the Eleventh Hour before State Budget is Passed
“I realize that we’re down to the wire as the state is now five days late passing the fiscal budget, but I wanted to take this opportunity to reaffirm to the Legislature and the Governor the need for the one percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for human services providers.
The COLA is provided by a previously denoted statute but has been deferred nearly every year since its creation. Human services providers continue to battle the pandemic while providing care to vulnerable New Yorkers, especially those with persistent mental illness––for whom this past year has been particularly challenging. Further, these providers have been trying their best to do more with less, every single year.
ACL represents mental health community housing providers across the state. These organizations have remained open for the entire duration of the pandemic and are staffed by various “essential workers” who could benefit from this COLA increase.
I use quotes because this was a term seemingly created since the pandemic started, but these individuals have always been essential to us and the people they serve. These are not only the staff who provide direct services to residents, these include people who clean, provide security, human resources, technical support, and who continue to keep the lights on to ensure continuity of care, even when external support services for residents were closed. Providers have incurred additional costs this past year related to keeping residents safe, such as personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies––things that were never anticipated, but became imperative.
We were pleased to see that the 1% COLA was included in both the Senate and Assembly budgets, and urge its inclusion in the final budget. While this small percentage is a drop in the bucket to the state’s overall budget, it would mean the world to a human services sector employee who has beared the brunt of this pandemic for more than a year. We must do more than say how much we appreciate them; we must show them.”
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About Association for Community Living. The Association for Community Living (ACL) is a statewide membership organization of not-for-profit agencies that provide housing and rehabilitation services to about 40,000 New Yorkers who have been diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness. Many of the people served in these programs have co-occurring physical health problems and substance use disorders. The day-to-day rehabilitative and support activities performed in community residential and other housing settings are vital for people who face the daily challenges of living with a mental illness and want to live independent, productive and satisfying lives as members of the community.