Since our founding in 2011, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson has made gains for dozens of families facing displacement in the Hudson Valley. Check out some of our proudest moments:
In May, Doreen Clifford and Debra Long were elected to the school board of Poughkeepsie after an increased voter turnout. Clifford and Long endorsed in full our educational justice platform, created by the Poughkeepsie parents and students we work with, and beat out two longtime incumbents who refused to close PACE.
In July, we released our report Just Utilities: Organizing for Solutions to the Household Energy Crisis after working on it for a year. The report discusses energy utilities as a strategic issue to link the housing and environmental movements, our replicable organizing model, and our policy proposals.
In June 2015, the Public Service Commission created a proposal to modify low-income energy assistance programs—without soliciting input from low-income people. Through direct action, we won statewide public hearings that resulted in the expansion of their original proposal by $70 million in funding and 550,000 eligible households.
In February, the Public Service Commission announced it would be conducting an investigation into Central Hudson based on Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson’s legal petition. The victory was a huge one, considering these types of investigations are rare, and reflected the courage and hard work of our members speaking up for their rights.
In September, after a long and intense struggle, Central Hudson accepted our member Angela Newman into their POP assistance program. Angela, who is chronically ill with COPD, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure, will now be paying $50 each month instead of the $125 she used to pay. After 24 months, her $6,258 debt would be reduced to nothing—Angela would be debt free.
We also managed to get Tanya Barber and Mary Grace Wyckhuyse on the POP program, despite Central Hudson accepting only 1 out of 300 people who apply. Many more low-income families need the benefits of this program, and that’s why we continued to demand that Central Hudson expand this program to all low-income customers.
In June, a proposed 17% increase in the basic service charge, a regressive flat fee charged monthly no matter how much energy a customer uses, was defeated. Though Central Hudson’s proposal to hike rates by about 20% was approved by the Public Service Commission, this was a major victory for low-income people, who are unfairly burdened by the basic service charge fee. Through marching on Central Hudson, testifying before the Public Service Commission, speaking on area TV, taking it to Central Hudson’s executives in a meeting, writing in the Poughkeepsie Journal and winning an editorial against the hike, and submitting over 1/3 of official public comments on the proposed hike, our members’ voices were heard and made a difference.
On November 3, the Poughkeepsie Common Council voted unanimously in favor of the Vacant and Foreclosed Properties BondOrdinance. With about 700 vacant homes in Poughkeepsie and hundreds more in foreclosure, this ordinance will save the city millions and additionally bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue through administrative fees and fines.