By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Local leaders from civic organizations including non-profits, tribes and congregations will gather on Thursday, September 1, at 10 a.m. at the Oklahoma State Capitol press conference room, (432-B) to raise awareness of the impact payday and other loan companies are having on the state.
Organizers say the event will address what legislators and concerned citizens can do to bring about needed change.
“Oklahomans are the number one user of payday loans per capita in the nation,” said Rev. Lori Walke, a VOICE leader with Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ. “In 2015 alone, payday lenders charged Oklahomans $52 million in fees. The average interest rate on these loans is 391 percent APR. We’re seeing too many families get trapped in a debt cycle by these predatory lenders.”
VOICE OKC (Voices Organized In Civic Engagement) is a coalition of congregations, unions, associations, schools and non-profit groups that come together to understand the pressures faced by individuals and families in the Oklahoma City community and to work effectively within the democratic process to address those pressures.
Other VOICE leaders will be available to share stories on the impact of these loans on their own families.
Last June the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB issued proposed guidelines for payday loans and auto title loans that would, for the first time, require lenders to ensure that people taking out these types of loans could actually afford to pay them back.
The proposed rule would also cut off repeated debit attempts that rack up fees. These proposed protections would cover payday loans, auto title loans, deposit advance products, and certain high-cost installment and open-end loans. The CFPB is also launching an inquiry into other products and practices that may harm consumers facing cash shortfalls.
Public comments on the issue can be made online through mid-October.
The press conference will include statements from Patrick Raglow, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City; Tina Pollard, consumer lending manager for the Potawatomi Community Development Center; and Devon Douglass, policy analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute; Dr. Sue Hakel and educator Elise Robillard.
In addition to the proposed federal guidelines, there are actions that could be taken at the state level.
“Policymakers could make a big impact by capping the interest rates of these loans at 36 percent, which is already in place for military families,” Douglass. “They can also protect Oklahomans by not expanding predatory lending, as they attempted to in the last session, through flex loans.”
For more information, call Kristen King at 405-613-3621 or visit voiceforokc.com