Community Care Cooperative is a state-licensed cooperative business that enables neighbors to help neighbors live their best lives by providing personal care and home care services to seniors and disabled people. This is the first Black-founded home care services cooperative in Texas, the second home care cooperative in Texas, and exists as 1 of 14 home care cooperatives in the nation.
Community Care Cooperative will serve moderate to low income community members that depend on Medicaid or subsidies for their caregiving after the caregivers are onboarded. The cooperative is currently onboarding the first 13 caregivers in a paid orientation process for five weeks. This onboarding includes supporting caregivers through infrastructure, so that they have the agency to give care and to bring in clients on their own terms.
Through the structure of a cooperative, the source of labor — the caregivers — are the ones who ultimately make the decisions in the organization. Compared to a nonprofit, cooperatives do have boards, but the board is accountable to the labor in what decisions are made. This infrastructure is to prevent burnout, ensure equitable pay, and to preserve dignity for workers who need support.
“Cooperatives solve problems, address failures of the market, when communities and people are failed by the market.
Northern Third Ward has an unemployment rate of upwards of 20%, the second highest in the 610 inner core, and again responding to that — what skills, what labor is happening that can be organized?
Why isn’t the labor we contribute to the human race valued in a way that allows humans to live with dignity?”
Before beginning the process of creating this cooperative, it was important to Richards that the collective knew what the community was needing. Often times people with various privileges, who aren’t even part of a community, assume what a community wants or needs without engagement or feedback.
To ensure the community received exactly what they were needing, Sankofa Research Institute worked with Dr. Quianta Moore, nonresident fellow in Child Health Policy at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, to survey the communities. It was a door to door survey, with about 1,500 residents in northern Third Ward. Residents were compensated $50 for their participation. The feedback from residents highlighted that having access to healthcare and jobs in that area was their main priority.
“I believe that Black people, poor people, working class people, know what they need and they don’t need others to tell them what they need.
On a more personal experience, was my grandmother and her need for caregiving, and the tension between the caregivers who are not paid well, not respected and not valued, and our need for our grandmother to be cared for better.
We were expecting miracles out of people who weren’t adequately supported.”
The goal of the cooperative is to put the power in the hands of those who labor. As it is, healthcare prioritizes profit over people and racism is another layer of harm to Black and Brown communities.
“I belong to a people who have always, since their presence in this country, have been denied ownership of themselves. And work and labor has been one of the most traumatic sets of experiences that we’ve had across our lives.
Being able to affirm that ‘you do matter’, ‘you are significant,’ ‘you do have intrinsic value’ and creating a business that actualizes that.”
Listen to the full interview with Assata Richards, here.