The Network and HSC Host #JustPay Rally for 3% Human Services COLA

Categories: New York City

The Network and HSC Host #JustPay Rally for 3% Human Services COLA image


The Network and the Human Service Coalition (HSC) gathered with human services workers from supportive housing and other nonprofit organizations alongside elected officials to urge the City to include a 3% COLA for the workforce in the November budget modification. 

The rally was part of the #JustPay campaign, organized by HSC, whose mission is to put an end to government-sanctioned poverty wages for human services workers. New York City's human services workforce are some of the lowest paid workers in New York's economy and are predominantly women of color, reflecting a long devaluation of their work.

Housing providers are currently experiencing a 20% staff vacancy and over 30% of all New York City human services providers have vacancy rates of over 15%. Without a wage increase, these numbers will likely increase. This not only negatively impacts the organizations and their staff, but the tenants and clients they serve. 

At the rally, supportive housing leadership, impacted staff, and elected officials spoke to the dire need for a 3% COLA for human services workers:

Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch kicked off the event stating, “We are here today to show how important it is that the city begins to pay the people who do the hardest work what they’re worth.” 

Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer at Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), emceed the event and said, “We are calling on the City to make sure it includes a 3% COLA for essential workers who have been keeping New York running for not only the past year, but many years before that. We need a real livable wage for our essential workers.”

Council Member Adrienne E. Adams, who helped organize the event, said “Our human services workers — nearly half of whom are women of color — are true heroes who have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic. They deserve #JustPay so they can support their families and communities. We need a 3% COLA in the November budget modification now.” 

Council Member Stephen Levin also spoke and said, “The City outsources the work of serving vulnerable New Yorkers, and the workers are getting the short end of the stick.” 

Network member leadership gave remarks: “What a budget really is, is a statement of your values as a government: who you care about, protect and lift up.” said Win President and CEO Christine Quinn, “So, when a budget affirmatively leaves out $50 million to pay human services workers a little more, it’s saying we don’t matter.” 

“We are the core of the City’s safety net.” said Homeward NYC CEO Jeanette Ruffins, “We have ALWAYS been essential workers, but the City doesn’t act like it. By not funding us, they’re saying we’re not important.

Supportive housing direct service providers from Project FIND and Urban Pathways also spoke: “I have to work three jobs just to survive. I’m a third generation New Yorker and I can barely afford to live here.” said Brittney Pruitt, Housekeeper at Project FIND. “I urge government to include a 3% COLA for human services workers.” 

“Our programs never closed during the pandemic. My colleagues and I have done the work and are working twice as hard.” said Chan Henry, Case Manager at Urban Pathways, “Every day I’m faced with challenges on how to spend my paycheck - do I pay for electricity or food?” Read Chan’s full statement here

Thank you to everyone who joined the rally and those who participated on social media. The Network looks forward to continue fighting for living wages for our sector. Learn more about the #JustPay campaign at

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