For Huffman, prison not the best answer
Did actress Felicity Huffman do something illegal and unethical? Absolutely. But does incarceration for her and those who committed similar crimes serve society [“Prison for Huffman,” News, Sept. 14]?
How about having her and other parents who cheated to get their children into college fund up-to-date community centers where underprivileged and underperforming students can receive free tutoring, learn computer skills, take art and music classes and learn about nutrition? Add a gym for sports, offer free healthy meals and, yes, have Huffman teach acting.
We need meaningful alternatives to incarceration, and there are countless students who could benefit from such community centers.
Home health aides deserve more pay
The Sept. 14 news story “Aides payment issue settled” reported on an agency that will pay $450,000 in total restitution to home health aides who were underpaid.
However, I see a bigger issue. I believe that aides who do 24/7 live-in work, as is the case to assist one of my family members, are underpaid for the work they are expected to do: bathe and feed clients, help with toilet needs, shop, clean the house, do laundry, etc. Some aides are paid near the minimum wage
. For aides who work for clients who use wheelchairs, there is constant transferring from the chair to the bed or toilet.
Although New York’s top court approved a regulation allowing only 13 hours in a 24-hour workday, I suspect it is rare that any live-in aide works just 13 hours, gets eight hours of sleep and three hours for meal breaks. They must be available all the time. And if there is no relative at home, the aide is the sole caretaker, so when they are eating lunch, they are likely also feeding the client.
These situations need a closer look from the state Department of Labor. Aides need more equitable pay for the hours they actually work. Unionizing these underpaid aides would be a step in the right direction.
I have volunteered with the outreach office of Our Holy Redeemer Church in Freeport for more than 30 years. Many of the people who come in seeking help with food and clothing, etc., are home health care aides.
Over and over, I hear the same story. They are begging their agencies to give them more work, but they get only perhaps two days a week. They are unable to support themselves on that income.
If there is a shortage of home care aides, why won’t the agencies give them more work?
Millennials and the high cost of living
A reader writes that in the 1970s, “a minimum wage job could pay rent on a modest studio apartment. A person could support him or herself while continuing his or her education” [“Millennials face higher costs of living,” Letters, Sept. 15].
How was this possible? Yes, the cost of living was much lower, but so was the minimum wage. The minimum wage in New York in 1974 was $2 an hour. It gradually rose to $2.90 by 1979.
I do have empathy for millennials because I faced the same problems in my youth. It always has been challenging for the young to get ahead.
In the short term, millennial singles and couples without children might gravitate to apartments near train stations. But face it, once children enter the picture, apartments do not provide enough space. Young families look for houses.
And then we are back to the same problem of the unaffordability of housing on Long Island. During the time that singles and couples rent, they forgo the opportunity to save for a house down payment.
Developers need to be incentivized to build affordable houses. They are not going to sink their own money into below-market-rate houses.
Some towns require that a percentage of new apartments be set aside at affordable rents. But it’s not enough. It’s the principle of supply and demand. Perhaps Long Island employers need to raise salaries to attract enough people who can afford to live here if they want a growing workforce.
The small-minded burghers of Long Island are paying a heavy price for their opposition to low-cost housing. In their fear that apartments will raise taxes and reduce property values, they have driven away their own children and grandchildren and deprived themselves of the comfort and joy that only a close family relationship can provide. As the Bible says, sin brings its own punishment.
I suggest we build affordable apartments without amenities such as a clubhouse, gym, heated pool, cybercafe or dog-walking path. If an apartment dweller wants to socialize, he or she should go out. He or she could join a gym. Not every home has a pool or needs a dog-walking path.
Providing affordable housing is possible if we cut out the extras and offer clean, safe environments. I hope we can do something to make it more affordable for our young population to say on Long Island. It’s a great place to live and raise a family.