Mayor Sly James said members of the community are invited to join him to launch a grassroots effort to end predatory payday lending, a presence that creates a financial debt trap for many of Kansas City’s most vulnerable families.
“Kansas Citians of all ages need to understand the importance of using money wisely to prepare for a financially stable future,” Mayor James said. ‘Triple-digit interest rates on small-dollar loans imposed on working families is not the kind of financial service we want in Kansas City.”
The kick-off will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, June 11 at the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St.
Communities Creating Opportunity is hosting the event. Also invited are national, state and local elected leaders; congregation ministers; social service organizations serving the working poor and youth; and community leaders in neighborhoods where many payday lending establishments are located.
The Rev. Mike Roach of St. James Catholic in Kansas City, a clergy leader with Communities Creating Opportunity in Kansas City, said: “Our faith traditions are very clear: Industries built on exploiting the working poor are immoral and must change. The abuses and excesses of the payday lenders are well-documented and continue to shock the conscience of Americans everywhere. God’s people must demand better.”
The event will include a screening of “Spent: Looking for Change,” an American Express documentary about the effect of payday loans on individuals and families.
Speakers also will discuss the payday lending profile of Kansas City, including remarks by a Kansas Citian who has been a payday borrower; and an overview by a local attorney of Missouri payday lending laws that have enabled the industry to take root and thrive in this state.
The event will conclude with a discussion of how to influence new payday lending rules being proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CFPB is a federal agency that makes and enforces consumer-finance rules with the objective of empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. A public comment period on the federal rules is expected to commence in August.
CCO estimates that payday lending drains about $26 million annually from the local Kansas City economy. While a credit-card lender can legally charge an annual percentage rate of 36 percent, the average payday loan in Missouri has an APR of 455 percent, CCO said.
CCO research also shows there are more payday loan shops in Missouri than Walmarts, McDonald’s and Starbucks stores combined.
This event is sponsored by DollarWise – Mayors for Financial Literacy, a financial education initiative of The United States Conference of Mayors and its Council on Metro Economies and the New American City, of which Mayor James is a member.