Advocates lobby against predatory loan companies
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Faith Voices lobbied at the state capitol Tuesday to advocate for more restriction on predatory loan companies and the regulated interest amounts.
The group handed out full reports of “When Poverty Makes You Sick,” which compiled data of predatory lending trends by county and city in Missouri as it affects resident’s health and access to healthcare. According to Kathy Lutz, a self-proclaimed “payday survivor,” the system of payday loans targets the poor.
“We were trapped,” she said. “We had no way of ever getting out from underneath those [loans]. We knew there wasn’t going to be a job where we got a promotion or a pay increase.”
Lutz and her family were first hit by the effects of payday loan companies when she fell sick and could not afford a trip to St. Louis for heart surgery. Both her husband and son are with disabilities, so the household relies on social security as a main source of income.
While Lutz and her family live in Springfield, the trip to Columbia on Tuesday was important enough because of what she says it is an issue the entire state of Missouri faces.
According to the report, which was published by Human Impact in February, there’s a total of nearly 400 payday lender stores in Missouri’s 20 most populous counties. The number of payday loan stores is higher in counties with a higher number of “poor or fair health” residents than in counties without.
The report says this is what keeps the predatory lending cycle going. People who are surrounded by these types of lending stores can rely on them for emergency situations. However, because they usually aren’t making a high income, they are constantly in debt because of high interest rates.
Lutz said this is what kept her and her family in bad situations for so long.
“We were about $2,500 in debt,” she said. “It just created a debt cycle we could not get out of.”
Lutz said she is looking at legislators to "do the right thing," because people like her need their help.
Boone County was listed as a healthier county, and only has 4.49 payday loan stores per every 100,000 people with a total of eight stores.
The group dropped off four copies of the report at different offices at the capitol, including the Speaker of the House.