Kentucky Faith Leaders Push Bill to Prevent Unfair Payday Loan Practices

Media Contacts: Robert Owens, 502-797-6870, clout@bellsouth.net; Dustin Pugel, 859-367-0152, dustin@thedartcenter.org

Kentucky Faith Leaders Push Bill to Prevent Unfair Payday Loan Practices

Coalition seeking to prevent local economies from losing millions of dollars in revenue while consumers struggle with high interest fees and cycle of debt. 

Frankfort, KY – Today, a broad, interdenominational coalition of the Kentucky faith community joined by dozens of consumer groups across the state calling on the Kentucky legislature to pass Senate Bill 32, introduced by Senator Alice Forgy Kerr to cap payday loan interest rates at 36%. The current average interest rate on payday loans in Kentucky is over 300%. The 36% rate cap bill would build on 2010 reforms that created a database documenting the debt trap of payday lending, but does nothing to protect families from falling into the trap. Since 2010, more families have been trapped by usurious predatory payday lending than ever, draining over $121 million a year out of Kentucky’s economy.

Much of the $121 million a year in fees collected in Kentucky by payday lenders flows out of the state. The largest Kentucky payday lender, Cash Express, is headquartered in Tennessee. Advance America, the second largest, isn’t even a U.S company—it’s owned by a Mexican bank. The drain hurts entire communities, sapping people of funds they could use to invest in their futures, and draining disposal income from local stores and small businesses.

“People of faith should be deeply troubled that the 2010 law allows the plague of modern-day usury to continue unchecked. We hope lawmakers agree that the Bible’s prohibition against usury is very clear and that preying on our state’s most vulnerable citizens is clearly wrong,” Rev. ​Richard Gaines, Pastor of Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington said.

“Payday lenders market their products as a one-time quick fix, but they are a debt trap by design, and the legislature should act to protect Kentucky’s families and Kentucky’s economy,” added Marian Taylor, a Presbyterian who serves as the executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches.

Most payday loan borrowers end up trapped in debt because they cannot pay off high-interest loans and cover their normal living expenses. The borrower is forced to take out loan after loan after loan, incurring new fees each time. The problem has only gotten worse since the reform measure passed in 2010.   In 2013, predatory payday lenders took in $121 million in fees, an increase of 15% since 2010. Payday Lenders are also charging more—the average fee paid by a payday loan borrower has risen $44, from $529 to $573. Over 93% of payday loans were generated by borrowers taking out five or more loans a year—for a product marketed as a one-time quick fix.  Only 1% of loans in 2013 went to borrowers who did not borrow again during the year. The average payday loan borrower in Kentucky is stuck in 10 loans per year.

“Most insulting of all, we have seen payday lenders try to get churches to promote their products,” Dr. Hershael York, Pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort said. “Last year, payday lenders showed up to Vacation Bible Schools with promotional goody bags plastered with their company logos inviting churches to promote usury to children and their parents. We want payday lenders to know that we will not be promoting usury. We will be fighting to end it.”

A complete list of the organizations supporting the bill to cap payday loan interest rates at 36% is included below. More about the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending is available, http://kyresponsiblelending.org.

We support 36 % APR on Payday Loans!

Faith Communities

African Methodist Episcopal Church Kentucky Conference

African Methodist Episcopal Church West Kentucky Conference

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Mid-West Episcopal District

BUILD (Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct Action)

Catholic Charities of Louisville

Catholic Conference of Kentucky

CLOUT (Citizens of Louisville Organized United Together)

Consolidated District of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church 2nd Episcopal District

Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Episcopal Church Diocese of Kentucky

Episcopal Church Diocese of Lexington

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Indiana-Kentucky Synod

Franklin Baptist Association

Jewish Community Relations Council (Louisville)

Kentucky Baptist Convention

Kentucky Baptist Fellowship

Kentucky Council of Churches

Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Mid-Kentucky Presbytery

Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Transylvania Presbytery

Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Western Kentucky Presbytery

Roman Catholic Church Archdiocese of Louisville

Roman Catholic Church Diocese of Covington

Roman Catholic Church Diocese of Lexington

Roman Catholic Church Diocese of Owensboro

St. Vincent De Paul

United Church of Christ Indiana/Kentucky Conference

United Church of Christ Ohio Conference

United Methodist Church Kentucky Annual Conference

United Methodist Church Memphis Conference

United Methodist Church Red Bird Missionary Conference

Union Church in Berea

 

Organizations

AARP Kentucky

Barren River Area Safe Space

Barren River Asset Building Coalition

Bell-Whitley CAA

Bethany House Abuse Shelter

Brighton Center

Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology

Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington

Center for Women and Families

Central Kentucky Housing and Homeless Initiative

Central Kentucky Coalition for Peace and Justice

Coalition for the Homeless

Community Action Kentucky

Community Ventures Corporation

Eastern Kentucky Asset Building Coalition

Family Foundation

Family Life Abuse Center

Federal Home Loan Banking Cincinnati

Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises

Frontier Housing

Gateway Homeless Coalition, Inc.

Green River Asset Building Coalition

Habitat for Humanity, Morehead

Hager Educational Foundation

Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky

Kentucky AFL-CIO

Kentucky Association of Counties

Kentucky Asset Success Initiative

Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Kentucky Equal Justice Center

Kentucky Habitat for Humanity

Kentucky Poverty Law Center

Kentucky Resources Council

Kentucky Youth Advocates

Lawrence & Augusta Hager Foundation

Lexington Fair Housing Council

Low Income Housing Coalition of East Kentucky (LINKS)

LKLP Safe House

Louisville Asset Building Coalition

Louisville Urban League

MACED

Merryman House

Metropolitan Housing Coalition

Metro United Way

NAACP – Louisville/Jefferson County Branch

N. KY Community Action Commission

OASIS

People’s Self Help Housing, Inc.

RAISE KY

Safe Harbor

Sanctuary

Sandy Valley Abuse Center

Shelter of Hope

SpringHaven

Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County

Welcome House