When you drive through poorer neighborhoods, two things you often notice are liquor stores and pay day loan businesses. Some community leaders say the pay day lenders take advantage of the poor by charging extremely high interest rates. Anna Babin is President of the United Way in Houston.
“We know that a 300 dollar loan can cost them as much as 850 dollars. Once they get into that cycle, it’s very hard to pay it back, because it seems as though you’re just spiraling down. And the United Way believes we can help lift up families with a lot of programs, but we also need to be an advocate for our families.”
Some might say people make their own choices and no one is forcing them to take out the loans. Babin says that’s true, but she says they’re still being taken advantage of and it only makes things worse.
“Sometimes it’s a short term fix to create a long-term problem and the United Way is committed to helping families stable their financial situation, increase their income, get a little savings and acquire an asset.”
Jean Ann Fox is with the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit group that fights for consumer rights. She says lawmakers in Arizona recently banned payday loan businesses. She says has been bills written in the past here in Texas that would change the way pay day lenders operate, but in her words, for some reason they never come up for vote.
“Texas is probably the worst situation for consumers in the small loan market.”
State Representative Sylvester Turner is vowing to introduce another bill in Austin, but whether it ever makes it to a vote remains to be seen.