On February 12th, our member Trudy and organizer Margaret spoke to PBS New York about our work. In the news segment, we talked to reporter Jenna Flanagan about the abuses by Central Hudson, our fight against shut-offs and racial discrimination, and the continuing Public Service Commission investigation into Central Hudson’s practices (see below).
The Investigation of Central Hudson
As we announced earlier this year, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has begun an investigation into Central Hudson based on For the Many’s legal petition. The PSC is investigating possible unlawful debt transfers, failure to negotiate payment agreements in good faith, failure to follow shut-off procedures, and racial discrimination in collection practices. You can read our original announcement of the investigation here.
Central Hudson Asks Us to Show Them the Law
From our new member Angela:
“In 2016 I applied for a Central Hudson account at a new apartment. They brought up a bill from 2009 and demanded I pay that. When I requested a Deferred Payment Agreement, they told me they could take $731.33 as a down payment. Then I would start paying $414.72 every month plus my regular bill. Can you imagine? That’s half of my income! I make $1,600 per month, and pay $850 for rent. Central Hudson needs to work with people who are willing to make agreements with them. As a single parent on one income, we can’t afford this. It’s not fair for low-income people. They’re not hitting the rich; they’re hitting the lower class. We’re getting disrespect. We need more lower class people to make their voices heard. If you don’t open your mouth, you won’t get anything done. We need people who are going to step up. People who are fighting to the end.” – Angela Williams.
Central Hudson refused to accept a down payment from Angela for $480 despite the law explicitly stating that a down payment cannot exceed half of one’s arrears or 3 months’ usage (whichever is less). We asked Central Hudson earlier for Angela’s average usage and they said it was $160/month, which is $480 for three months. When we explained this to Central Hudson, they refused to grant it and wanted to be shown the law.
Abuses like this are a pattern, which is why we need the Public Service Commission to hold Central Hudson accountable and change the policies and practices at the root of their misconduct.
We would like to thank the Forest Foundation, the Sally and Dick Roberts Coyote Foundation, Left Tilt Fund, Hudson River Presbytery, RESIST Foundation, Vassar College Community Works, and the Vassar College Good Neighbors Fund for their recent support.
Grassroots Fundraising Success
On November 23rd, we began our Winter 2015 fundraising drive to raise $30,000 by the New Year to continue the fight for racial, gender, and economic justice in 2016.
Together, we made our goal! 385 donors contributed $36,656 by December 31. That’s 210 more donors and $7,000 more than our end-of-year drive last year! With your help we’re planning to prevent power shut-offs for 75 more households, support an investigation into Central Hudson’s exploitative practices, participate in days of action with the national Black Lives Matter movement, and do much more in 2016. Thank you to all the supporters who donated, and the Fundraising Team members who made it happen!
A New Office
We’ve moved to a bigger office to keep up with our growing membership! We’re still at the Family Partnership Center on 29 North Hamilton St, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, but we’re now in room L04. We’re on the same floor in a different hallway. Stop by!