January 15, 2014
Last Friday the YWCA, in partnership with Alliance for Responsible Lending in Alabama (ARLA) hosted a rally advocating legislative reform for predatory lending laws. At the heart of the discussion was Alabama’s special interest carve outs that allow lending institutions to charge 456 percent APR on payday loans and 300 percent APR on automobile title loans, trapping citizens in a cycle of debt and putting families at risk for vehicle repossession. The rally included an in-depth video and presenters who shared information from legal, personal and political perspectives in an effort to build momentum for legislative change. Those who spoke at the rally represented a wide variety of community figures, including lawyers, city council members, pastors and more.
ARLA is a network of congregations, nonprofits and community groups working together to end predatory lending practices in Alabama. ARLA members include: AARP of Alabama, Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, Alabama Asset Building Coalition, Alabama Possible, Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, Arise Citizens’ Policy Project, Birmingham Faith in Action (includes 25 congregations), Gateway Financial Freedom, First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Leading Edge Institute, Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham, Southern Poverty Law Center, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, YWCA Central Alabama, Zonta Birmingham and individuals across Alabama.
One of the first guests to speak was Senior Pastor of Living Faith Community Church Reverend Marc Singleton. “These lending institutions are emaciating the vitality of our families and constricting the possibility of redevelopment of our distressed communities,” said Rev. Singleton. Addressing predatory lending laws from a moral perspective, Rev. Singleton provided evidence which suggests lawmakers in the state of Alabama seem to lack a moral interest in those who easily fall victim to these loans.
Another speaker, AARP Alabama State President Jack Bradford related to Rev. Singleton’s point in his presentation: “These loan programs that we are speaking about only exist because they pitch themselves towards the vulnerable.”
The last guests to speak at the rally were Stephen Stetson, Policy Analyst for Alabama Arise, and Shay Farley, Legal Director of Alabama Appleseed, the organizations leading the effort to reduce the state interest rate cap to 36 percent. Farley made a point to express that each citizen of Alabama has a role to end usury by contacting our representatives and joining ARLA in Montgomery on February 4 at the State House.
As an organization whose primary clients are those who are working poor and live in these “vulnerable” communities, the YWCA proudly supports the movement to encourage legislation which limits interest rates. By changing the maximum interest rate cap from 456 percent APR to 36 percent APR, individuals in our community will have a better chance at becoming more financially stable.
The YWCA is committed to serving the women and families that need us while we work to change this law which keeps families in poverty. If you would like to learn more, please click here.