Thursday, January 26, 2012

A New Venture and an Issue that Still Needs Our Attention

For the past several years, I've had the privilege of writing a monthly column for the Dallas Morning News. What's really exciting is that my contributions were a part of the DMN's editorial board's Pulitzer Prize winning North/South Gap series (it's nice to have a piece of a Pulitzer!).

Yesterday, I began participating in a new opportunity: the first monthly column for Dallas South News. Shawn P. Williams, the founder and senior editor of DSN, has become a seminal voice for issues related to the southern part of our city, and I've been an admirer of his since I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance a few years ago. I admire his courage and his journalistic entreprenuership! So I'm looking forward to expanding the conversation about issues related to race, culture, politics and poverty here with CTW, at the Morning News and now with South Dallas News.

The first column, by the way, deals with the laws that are going into effect in Dallas, Austin and throughout the state that regulate payday and auto-title lenders. You can read it here...

Dr. Frederick Haynes, III, pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church, in an earlier column reveals that now banks are getting into the short term lending business, at interest rates as high as 365% - certainly lower than 500%, but, come on!

"One of the most egregious exploitations is an emerging trend among major banks to offer advance deposit loans or bank payday loans. When the bank repays itself, the customer is left with about half of the monies from that deposit, forcing yet another cycle of loan and interest charges to cover other living expenses. Although Wells Fargo was the first major bank to offer this type of loan, Fifth Third Bank, Regions Financial and U.S. Bank all now offer these loans."
"Only bank customers with direct deposits from employers or government benefits have access to these loans. Nearly 25 percent of the transactions occurred with Social Security recipients. Further, older customers were 2.6 times more likely than others to use this type of loan."
"If you’re thinking that this loan sounds like a street corner payday loan, you’d be right. Just like storefront payday loans, these newer bank payday loans charge triple digit interest too. A key difference is that while 17 states and the District of Columbia have enacted interest rate caps of 36 percent or less, federally regulated banks appear somehow exempt from state laws."

While we're making progress, this is a fight that's far from being won!

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