Below is the letter sent by our Executive Director to the Albany County Legislature in support of paid sick leave legislation:
On behalf of Habitat for Humanity Capital District, I am writing to express our full support of paid sick leave legislation. Habitat’s mission is to build strength, stability and self-reliance through affordable homeownership. One of the most significant barriers to securing safe, stable and affordable housing is financial insecurity. Without the protection of paid sick day laws, workers are forced every day to decide between their health and their economic security. At Habitat, we partner with families throughout Albany County who regularly sacrifice their own health because they cannot afford to take an unpaid day off when they are sick. Most of us agree that health care is a basic human right. When you can’t afford to take a day off to manage your health, visit a doctor or recover from trauma, you are forced to give up your right to health care. For many, staying home sick or taking time to attend to personal or family health needs can lead to the loss of a job—sending the household into financial distress and instability.
As an affordable housing provider for our Albany County’s lower-income workers, I understand that paid sick leave is essential for our neighbors to be able to build financial security and access the housing stability necessary for families to thrive. All of us in the nonprofit sector who have dedicated our careers to achieving social justice, equity and opportunity should support paid sick leave. If we truly believe that a fairer, more just society is possible, then we need to take steps like adopting paid sick leave in order to realize that vision.
I’m also an employer of nearly 30 staff members. I understand the costs of running a business and know the stresses of making payroll and paying bills. I also understand that paid sick leave ensures a healthier and more productive staff. When employees are supported through paid sick leave, we all benefit. Paid sick leave protects public health, diminishes health care costs, supports victims of violence, and promotes the financial security of working families. The nonprofit sector has a notoriously high level of turnover and burnout. I’m proud to say we have many long-term staff members who are able to continue doing our important work because they are supported through policies such as paid sick leave. If your organization cannot afford to pay your workers fairly and to ensure paid leave when they are sick, you do not have a viable business model.
We call on the Albany County Legislature to pass Paid Sick Days legislation covering all private sector and non-profit employers. When an estimated 40% of private sector workers living in Albany County don’t have access to paid sick leave, it’s clear we have a problem. A public health problem, an economic problem, an equity problem and a moral problem. It’s time for Albany County to step up and ensure paid sick leave for all workers.
Habitat for Humanity Capital District