Hunter leads effort to increase wages for home health care workers

hunter 051419SPRINGFIELD – Speaking at an SEIU Healthcare Home Care Lobby Day rally, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago, 3rd) once again stressed the importance of giving a raise to care workers who provide in-home services for seniors in Illinois.

“Right now, home care agencies are struggling to recruit and retain caregivers in every corner of the state,” Hunter said. “Why? Because the average Illinois home care worker’s hourly wage is only $11.08.”

Hunter is the chief co-sponsor of Senate Bill 2019, which would provide agencies a rate increase to ensure that every home care aide working through the Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Programs earns at least $13 per hour by July 1, 2019.

For years, funding for programs under the Community Care Program have gone unchanged, which leaves care providers unable to raise workers’ wages and has left Illinois unprepared to deal with workforce shortages. Projections also show that the population of Illinoisans over the age of 65 will grow by one-third by 2025, ballooning to 2.5 million people. Currently, the state needs 19,500 more workers to meet demand, but will also need another 12,000 workers annually to account for high turnover rates as caregivers are pushed out of the industry in search of better-paying jobs. 

“Low pay contributes to high turnover rates that undermine seniors’ quality of home care services when good providers leave for a better paying jobs,” Hunter said. “Raising wages is the right thing to do to support one of our most vulnerable populations and the men and women who care for them.”

State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), a co-sponsor of the legislation, also discussed the need to stabilize the program that provides vital home care services to more than 100,000 Illinois senior residents and supports dignified aging while maintaining independence safely and healthily.

“I'm proud to be union strong,” Villivalam said. “It's who I am and who I'll always be. I'm thankful advocates for SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana who came down to Springfield to hold the legislature's feet to fire to ensure that there is affordable home and child care available for every Illinoisan who needs it.”

Sen. Mattie Hunter

Senator Mattie Hunter

3rd District
Majority Caucus Chair

Years served:
2003 - Present (Senate)

Committee assignments: Appropriations I; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive (Chairperson); Human Services; Public Health; Subcommittee on Special Issues (EX) (Sub-Chairperson); Subcommittee on Special Issues (HS); Opioid Crisis Abatement Spec. Com.; Transportation (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago – 3rd District) has served in the Illinois Senate since 2003. She is Chairperson of the Senate Energy Committee and serves on many other committees like Human Services and Public Health. She is also appointed to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Committee and is Co-Chair of the Council of State Government Health Policy Task Force.

Associated Representatives:
Sonya M. Harper
Lamont J. Robinson, Jr.