NYTWA Statement on Mayor's Report & Recommendations on Medallion Predatory Lending
This statement can be attributed to Bhairavi Desai (she/her), Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance:
"The Mayor's office acknowledges that their report and recommendations on the medallion predatory lending scandal are just a start. But what we need right now is more than a report on what city rules have been violated -- we need an immediate end to the financial devastation that drivers are facing.
"The Mayor's recommendations don't include debt forgiveness for a workforce facing an economic crisis that has already pushed three owner-drivers to suicide, and thousands to bankruptcy.
"In their explanation to the press on why they don't support debt forgiveness, the Mayor's office grossly miscalculates the amount it would take to refinance loans and forgive medallion debt for struggling owner-drivers, estimating $13 billion. But our own calculations show that debt forgiveness would actually cost between $1.8 billion to $2.7 billion. And lenders bear most of this, with only a fraction of the funds coming from the city.
"Meanwhile, 10 Council Members have come out in support of debt forgiveness and calling on the city to take responsibility, after 7 government agencies failed drivers, and the city made $850 million on medallion sales and transactions since 2004.
"We need the investigations to continue so those who violated laws are held accountable and cannot victimize other poor borrowers, the way housing mortgage lenders involved in the 2008 crash continued their pattern of predatory lending -- this time to medallion owner-drivers.
"We need local rules and laws to stop predatory lending in the future -- and to extend those protections to Uber, Lyft and other FHV drivers caught up in predatory vehicle leases or loans.
"But only talking about future enforcement fails to bring an end to the immediate poverty that drivers are suffering now. Elderly drivers need the dignity of retirement. Families should not end this year with $30,000 in new debt, on top of $600,000 in outstanding debts.
"We need immediate debt forgiveness for any loan amounts above the current medallion value, a $900-per-month cap on medallion mortgage payments, and a retirement fund for elderly drivers.
"The crisis we see today was primarily created during the last administration which held 15 of the 16 auctions and practically set up the last one on their way out to Wall Street gigs. But like it or not, this Mayoral administration has a moral obligation to step in and do right by a workforce so miserably failed by the very halls of power they now occupy."
Read the New York Times story on the Mayor’s report here.