Advocates, local agencies call on state to add more funding in budget to benefit those who work with people with disabilities

Advocates, local support agencies and others were at Jawonio in New City Thursday morning speaking with state lawmakers who represent the area about the importance of more funding in order to pay Direct Support Professionals or DSPs more money.
Assemblymans John McGowan, Chris Eachus and Kenneth Zebrowski, along with State Sen. Bill Weber and a representative from State Sen. Pete Harckham’s office, were in attendance.
One speaker said a DSP had faced eviction.
Jawonio CEO Randi Rios-Castro shared she recently learned a DSP was living in a homeless shelter.
"Honestly, it's heartbreaking,” said Rios-Castro.
She tells News 12 that the agency employs about 300 DSPs with over 100 staff vacancies.
Rios-Castro added that it's difficult to attract and keep those workers because of pay.
"They need to be able to make a living wage and they deserve to make a living wage. These are not minimum wage jobs. This is hard work,” said Rios-Castro. “They are changing people. They are showering them, feeding them, taking them to and from medical appointments."
Advocates are hoping for a 3.2% increase in cost-of-living adjustment or COLA, as well as a $4,000 wage enhancement in the 2025 state budget.
If both happen, News 12 is told wages would be at about $19 per hour.
It's currently $16.10.
There was a rally in Albany for the cause on Wednesday.