One hundred staff members from Urban Pathways attended the second #JustPay Rally on May 25th, calling on Mayor Adams to fund a 5.4% COLA for essential human services workers. The #JustPay campaign, which Urban Pathways has been advocating for and supporting since its start, demands an end to government-sanctioned poverty wages for human services workers.

Urban Pathways’ Housing Coordinator Nilza Phillips spoke at the rally about her experience as an essential worker:

“I am the only person at my organization doing this work. If I did not show up, people in need of supportive and affordable housing would not receive placements across our 782 beds. Yet my wages do not match the critical nature of my position. My wages are set by the city, but I make just 70 percent of what I would make if I worked directly in government.”

“Getting people into housing is the most important thing we can do to end homelessness in our city, especially as concerns rise over increased evictions due to the pandemic.  Yet, I am struggling to make ends meet myself with the extremely high rate of inflation we are all being impacted by. As I work to get members of our community into safe, affordable housing, I am facing my own rent increase and have been unable to find a new apartment due to rent hikes.”

“We need the mayor to step up and fund a 5.4% COLA in this year’s budget. The human services sector is going on three years without a COLA during a time where we are needed more than ever… I hope the mayor will do the right thing and fund a COLA for our essential workforce who deserves #JUSTPAY!”

Mayor Adams can and should address the wage crisis by including and fully funding a COLA in the FY23 budget. This would ensure fair wages for human services workers, and an increase in high-quality services brought into communities most impacted by the pandemic.

Here’s what you can do: