After 45-day camp-out and 15-day hunger strike, NYTWA celebrates victory led by founder Bhairavi Desai

Bhairavi Desai, with mask on at center hands folded, with members of NYTWA. Photo Facebook @nytwa posted Aug. 24, 2022

Mayor Eric Adam’s administration announced Aug. 30, 2022, that the program to provide a city-backed guarantee on restructured loans to taxi drivers will be operational starting September 19, 2022.

Thousands of yellow cab medallion owner-drivers will finally begin to see the debt relief they won after NYTWA (New York Taxi Workers Alliance) members held a 45-day camp out and 15-day hunger strike last November, a press release from NYTWA said.

Under the program, loans that are reduced by medallion lenders to no more than $200,000 will receive a $30,000 grant and the remaining balance will be guaranteed by the city in case of default.

Indian-American Founder and Executive Director of NYTWA Bhairavi Desai, heralded the change, saying in a statement,

“We are finally at the starting line of a new life for thousands of drivers and our families. The city-backed guarantee is a ground-breaking program that will save and change lives.”

Desai thanked City Hall, the TLC, the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, the Law Department, and Marblegate “for burning the midnight oil to set up this historic program to address the crisis of debt across the industry.”

The NYTWA is ready to work collectively with all concerned including the lenders, “to end this crisis and hit re-start,” Desai went on to say.  She congratulated union members “who chose to organize, and not despair, and won back their lives. Against the darkness of a crushing debt, their courage remained the light, and today, the triumph is fully theirs.”

The average debt is currently $550,000 with average monthly payments at $3,000. Under the final program, the new loan term for thousands will be $170,000 payable at $1,234 per month.

NYTWA members demonstrate in the streets. Photo uploaded on Facebook @nytwa Aug. 24, 2022

The final program reflects an increase in interest agreed upon in November 2021 from 5% to 7.3% as rates have gone up due to inflation; and a longer term of 25 years from 20 years to help drivers offset some of that cost.

The loan will be secured by a city-backed guarantee, relieving thousands of drivers from the fear of losing their homes or thousands of dollars in case of default, NYTWA said.

Marblegate Assets, the largest holder of loans, is ready to begin restructurings on September 19th – bringing immediate relief to the largest segment of owner-driver borrowers, the press release noted.

The City’s program is for all lenders and all eligible medallion owners (medallion owners who do not own more than 5 medallions.) Other lenders representing hundreds more loans are expected to also participate.



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