“I am 33 and am facing the prospect of going into a nursing home because I can’t find home care. If that happens, I will lose custody of my daughter— because I can’t find home care.” 

Image of white women smiling at camera with young girl smiling

My name is Renee Christian. I am 33 years old, live in Buffalo, NY,  and am a business owner and a mother. I was born with cerebral palsy, and require support from home care workers to assist me with my basic daily needs, like getting in and out of bed, bathing, toileting, and getting dressed.

For the last 14 years I have hired home attendants, but in recent years it has become increasingly impossible to find and secure workers. From November 2020 to February 2022 I slept in my wheelchair, because I didn’t have anyone to assist me to get in and out of bed. I recently found a home attendant to work with me during the night, but I am still lacking staff during the day. 

When I don’t have attendant support, I don’t eat and drink. And the reason for that is not because I can’t prepare food for myself, it’s because I need toileting assistance. Can you imagine having to make the choice between satisfying your hunger throughout the day or soiling yourself? That has become my reality, and it is no way to live.

New York has the biggest home care workforce shortages of any state in the nation, because the industry pays poverty wages. Right now, you can make more at McDonalds or Starbucks than as a home care worker. I don’t blame workers— why would someone choose to make poverty wages helping me bathe, when they can make $3-$5 more dollars an hour pouring coffee?

White woman in a wheelchair takes a selfie photo in the mirror with a long girl on her lap hugging herLack of home care has become the defining factor of my life, when it shouldn’t be. I am trapped by a system that refuses to value my life and the lives of the workers who support me. I have so much more to give, there is so much more to who I am. 

I have hit a point of crisis. I am 33 and am facing the prospect of going into a nursing home because I can’t find home care. If that happens, I will lose custody of my daughter, because I can’t find home care. 

Right now, my life is in the hands of our state legislators. There is widespread bipartisan support for The Fair Pay for Home Care Act, which would increase home care worker wages by 150%, and end workforce shortages. The wage increases have made it into the state and assembly budgets, but Governor Kathy Hochul has yet to sign on.

Which is why this week, I’ve traveled to Albany to join the New York Caring Majority and Hand in Hand for a week of action. I’ve also decided that I’m not leaving the capitol until the Governor includes Fair Pay for Home Care in the budget. I don’t have a choice. My life depends on it.

You can support me by retweeting my story below, and telling the Governor to include FairPay4HomeCare in the NYS Budget.