Chuck Schumer and New York elected officials blast taxi medallion lender
The open letter from New York’s political delegation, including Democrats in the Senate and State Assembly, City Council and Congress, accuses the lender of hiring debt collectors to harass drivers for overdue payments, including a collector who was arrested and accused of impersonating a new Marshal of York.
The letter states that O’Brien StaleyDebt collectors accosted drivers at JFK airport and their homes and removed the physical medallion and license plates from taxis in the middle of the night.
“It’s pure harassment,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group that represents more than 15,000 drivers in the city. “Their repo man chases drivers from Manhattan to Queens, sometimes in the middle of the night on the freeways, all for money before the city’s program starts. It’s a complete overhaul.
Congressman Zohran Mamdani of Queens, who signed the letter and who go on a hunger strike with debt-ridden taxi drivers in the fall, called the O’Brien-Staley tactic shameful.
“They are looking to take advantage of their last window of opportunity to get the most out of the most vulnerable people,” Mamdani said.
TLC Set to Vote Thursday to Codify the warranty contract made by the city in November. This would reduce the principal balance of outstanding medallion loans to a maximum of $170,000 and yield a monthly payment of $1,122. The city also agreed to provide $30,000 in direct payments to drivers with individual medallions out of a $65 million fund set up by the de Blasio administration. If a driver fails to meet the payment plan, the city will cover the remaining loan balance.
The new relief funds are expected to flow to drivers once the TLC codifies the program into city rules this week, Desai said.
the taxi medallion debt crisis has its roots in the proliferation of vehicle rental companies such as Lyft and Uber across the city in the 2010s. Many driver-owners taxi medallions purchasedwhich allow them to operate taxis within the city limits and can be traded on a secondary market, long before more than 100,000 rental cars flooded the streets of New York.
The value of a locket has since plummeted, from an average price of $1.1 million in 2014 to around $106,000 last month.
Members of the New York Legislature and Congressional delegation said they did not understand why O’Brien-Staley decided to seize the debtors’ medallions just before the aid package went into effect. town.
Several lenders, including Marblegate Asset Management, the city’s largest medallion loan holder, have officially or unofficially signed onto the relief package, making O’Brien-Staley’s alleged repossession tactics an outlier in a a stable truce between the drivers and their creditors.
“A renegade Minnesota-based lender, O’Brien-Staley Partners, is refusing to join the mutually beneficial guarantee agreement and harassing drivers with ugly tactics,” Schumer said. “New Yorkers will always have our taxi drivers” back, especially when faced with bullies like OSP.