Expanding jobs for New Yorkers with disabilities is the focus of state senator's bill

March 09, 2022

Originally published in WAER on February 22, 2022.

New York made progress this month supporting residents with disabilities with a newly established office, but the development comes as two-thirds of New Yorkers with disabilities are unemployed despite a growing American economy.

This is why State Sen. John Mannion is working on a bill to expand the preferred source program, which creates job opportunities for people with disabilities. He said there’s room for this program to grow.

“We have many employers that are looking for employees and this population is very dedicated.” Mannion said. “They deserve to lead an enriched life and having a job is certainly a part of that, being a part of a team is part of it.”

But it’s been difficult finding direct support professionals, or DSPs, who are workers that take care of people with disabilities. Mannion has a proposal that would give these DSPs a $5,000 tax credit because many are leaving for other jobs due to low wages. He said this led to some residential facilities closing, which has an impact on people with disabilities.

“Individuals have had to move to unfamiliar settings with unfamiliar staff and for many of these individuals and their families that can be incredibly upsetting," he said.

Mannion added that having a chief disability officer will be helpful in this fight because there will be a voice right at the desk side of the governor.