Mohammed Hoque had been driving a taxi for seven years before he put money down for his own medallion. The broker he trusted and the city he believed in said it was worth a million dollars and with his new born baby to think about, he took everything he had and invested into a steady job, his retirement, his credit line for a house and better times for his family. He still worked 60-hour weeks, but now, he thought, he could see a stable future. With fees he knew nothing about added on, the million became $1,091,000 and five years later, everything is lost. The medallion and taxi were seized on March 18, 2019. Mohammed has been leasing from others to go to work every day. Anything you give will help him get his car and medallion back so everything he worked for during these years doesn’t get wasted.
Mohammed and his family are featured in a New York Times front-page investigation into predatory practices in medallion lending and how seven government agencies knew and not only did nothing to protect the drivers, but did everything to undermine them. The city set the opening value of the medallion at $850,000 in 2014, then let in Uber and Lyft with none of the same regulations, making it impossible for Mohammed and others to earn enough money to keep up with their payments.
Mohammed first started driving a taxi in 2007, two years after he first came to the US from Bangladesh. His only days off over the past five years were when his children were born, his daughter in 2016 and his second son in 2018. He and his wife have lived in the same studio all these years, now with their three children. Even after all the crisis, long hours and struggle, Mohammed made the Honor Roll for the city's safest drivers in 2016 and again in 2017.
Mohammed is active with his union, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, in a campaign to win Debt Forgiveness for himself and his fellow owner-drivers. With new regulations on the medallion brokers and banks that lend – many went from destroying home owners during the 2008 crisis straight to lending to medallion owner-drivers like Mohammed while seven government agencies left them unregulated - and on Wall Street financed companies that flooded the streets with cars – 100,000 Ubers and Lyfts vs. 13,000 yellow taxis – Mohammed and other owner-drivers believe change will come and things can get better. He wants to keep serving the public he loves in the job he loves. His first plan is to move his family out of the cramped NYC studio and into a bigger home. Anything you can give will help him get back on the road behind the wheel of his own car and make a better path for his children.