The Kansas City implementation of DollarWise – Mayors for Financial Literacy, will include an event in early June to raise awareness of the financial ills of reliance on payday loans, Mayor Sly James said today.
“Kansas Citians of all ages need to understand the importance of using money wisely to prepare for a financially stable future,” Mayor James said. “Money is much more than dollar bills and coins in our pockets. We want everyone to understand that how we view and manage money has a deep and lasting impact on the quality of our lives.”
DollarWise – Mayors for Financial Literacy is the financial education initiative of The United States Conference of Mayors and its Council on Metro Economies and the New American City. During DollarWise Month in April, cities across the nation raise awareness about the importance of financial literacy, particularly for youth and minorities, and highlight year-round financial education opportunities.
Mayor James, an advocate for financial responsibility and education, has wholeheartedly accepted this challenge because he believes that as individuals become more financially literate, they become better prepared to build stable families, to help themselves and their children gain education, to be productive workers and to contribute to their neighborhoods and the city.
In Kansas City, the DollarWise initiative of the Mayor’s Office will include a financial literacy event focusing on payday lending in partnership with Communities Creating Opportunities. The event will include a screening of “Spent: Looking for Change,” a documentary about the effect of payday loans on individuals and families. The film will be followed by a panel discussion. Mayor James will introduce the public event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, June 11, at the historic Gem Theatre, 1615 E. 18th St.
The event also will kick off CCO’s grassroots effort to support pending federal rules regarding payday lending. A public comment period on the federal rules will commence in August.
“Our faith values are very clear: An industry built on exploiting the working poor is immoral and must change,” said the Rev. Lloyd Fields of the Greater Gilgal Baptist Church in Kansas City and a CCO leader. “Payday loans destroy the lives and finances of the vast majority of their customers, trapping them in an unending cycle of debt and fees.”
CCO estimates that payday lending drains about $26 million annually from the local Kansas City economy. While a credit card lender can legally have an annual percentage rate (APR) 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.