Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson is developing its campaign for energy utility justice, the People’s Power Campaign. Utilities are a household necessity, and we are working for affordable, sustainable and just policies and utility rates. Historically Central Hudson has the highest percentage of customer shut-offs of any utility in the State of New York. They have over 300,000 customers and shut off about 12,000 homes a year. About 10% of customers get shutoff notices a month, yet Central Hudson only allows one in 300 customers significant assistance.
Participants at the Utility Rights Clinic practice coming together to confront Central Hudson. We use the method of the SWORD and the SHIELD to fight back against injustice and keep people in their homes.
Utility Rights Clinic
Over 35 people came to our Utility Rights Clinic, on a snowy and cold February 12, where we discussed the utility rights of residents and the importance of organizing and working together to enforce them. Bill Yates from the Public Utility Law Project shared his knowledge of the utility laws and regulations. 90% of people attending had been shut off by Central Hudson before, with half the shut-offs clearly violating rights spelled out in New York State’s Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA).
We initiated plans to prevent 5 imminent shut-offs, and will continue to work with members until these shut offs are stopped. We also connected people to assistance programs that could save them hundreds of dollars in the coming year. People spoke out to demand a system that works for them. Dozens volunteered for our first public action and first mass meeting. Together, we’ll continuing organizing to change Central Hudson and the system that creates shutoffs, unaffordable rates, and inadequate assistance. Click here to learn more about our people’s power campaign.
Sociological Initiatives Foundation Grant
To boost our research and action on the People’s Power Campaign, we have received a prestigious Sociological Initiatives Foundation grant for $20,000 spread over two years. NLMH was one of only 8 recipients nationwide, out of 64 applicants. This is our most significant grant so far, though previously we have received grants from the Hudson River Presbytery, RESIST, Zickler Family Foundation, the Mako Foundation, the Vassar College Good Neighbors Committee, and the Sparkplug Foundation. To learn more about the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, and learn more about the 2015 grant recipients, visit www.sifoundation.org.
Fighting Foreclosure and Blight in Poughkeepsie
NLMH was central to the City of Poughkeepsie’s enactment of a foreclosure and vacant property bond ordinance in November 2014. In order to deter foreclosure, reduce blight and improve the safety and welfare of the city, the City Council required owners of foreclosed, foreclosing, or vacant properties to pay cash bonds of $10,000 as security to the city. NLMH worked with Community Voices Heard and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to draft, propose, and advocate for the ordinance. It is the first such municipal ordinance in the State of New York and the seventh in the country. The City Council is projecting a collection of $1,250,000 in security and $125,000 in revenue from the bond in 2015.
Fundraising and Grant-Writing
Our end-of-2014 fund-raising drive was a huge success! Together, we made our goal. 175 donors from 21 states and South Africa contributed $16,831 by December 31. When combined with the generous $13,000 challenge grant we received from some key supporters, this brought our total for the drive to $29,831. We were also thrilled that 130 of the 175 donors are new supporters! We’ve also received $1,300 from 10 donors since the end of the drive.
A big thanks to the supporters who made the matching challenge grant and to all who donated in any amount. Our fund-raising is critical to maintaining our ability to hire staff organizers and run campaigns. It has also allowed us to move into our first office in the Family Partnership Center at 29 North Hamilton St, a building in the center of Poughkeepsie that houses many other community organizations and services.