Mohammad Hossain came to the United States from Bangladesh in 1996. In 1998, he started driving a yellow taxicab, putting in 60-hour weeks and 200 miles a day. He purchased a medallion for wheel-chair-accessible car at the city’s 2014 auction for $854,000. NYC had set the opening bid at $850,000. Taking everything he had and borrowing from friends and family, he put down a deposit of $138,000. Today, he has an outstanding debt of $705,000. Over the past four years, he’s been driving alone, paying for the monthly operating expenses of $5,000 – the medallion mortgage, vehicle, insurance, city taxes, gasoline, licensing fees - entirely on his own. He has to earn back that much before he can earn anything for himself. Unlike years past when owning a medallion gave you a good credit line, having bought the medallion at the time of the downturn has also meant Mohammad has had no credit built up in the medallion to give a better life to him, his wife, their daughter and his mother-in-law for whom he cares. On paper, the City said he was sold the American Dream. In reality, the Hossain family share a one bedroom apartment in the Bronx.
Mohammad's story is featured in The Weekly, a TV series from the New York Times.
Mohammad started driving a taxi in 1998. Two times, he was recognized by the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s Honor Roll for drivers with safe records for five straight years. He’s logged in over 150,000 miles on the road and served over 155,000 passengers.
It’s been hard for all taxi drivers especially during these past five years. New York City has stricter rules on yellow cabs than other cars, and let companies like Uber and Lyft with Wall Street money dispatch 100,000 cars to compete against 13,000 taxis. All taxi driver incomes are down by 40% today compared to just seven years ago. At the same time, banks and brokers who control the medallion loans have had no mercy to lower the payments. Lenders responsible for the housing crisis in 2008 moved on to lending to owner-drivers like Mohammad. Mohammad is active with his union, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, to change things, organizing to win Debt Forgiveness for thousands of his fellow owner-drivers, and to win fair regulations so all drivers can protect their full-time jobs.
This campaign will help the family come out of their debt, rebuild their lives from the crisis of the past several years and move out of their one bedroom.