Dallas SVDP seeks to break payday-loan debt cycle

by | Jun 22, 2015 | News, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

featured-image-generic-svdpA Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) pilot program aims to predatory, high-interest payday-loans with affordable bank loans to help otherwise creditworthy, debt-stressed borrowers get a fresh financial start.

After telling the typical story of a woman named Nancy who works 60 per week but got sucked into an emergency payday loan a Dallas News editorial writes …

It’s a great idea. We urge more churches and nonprofits to pursue such innovative ways to help distressed borrowers, and more cities to pass tougher regulations to prevent unsuspecting borrowers from being financially consumed in massive payday debt. Combating predatory lending requires widespread community support on several fronts.

Here’s how the mini-loan program works. Staffers try to determine whether a predatory loan is the underlying cause of a borrower’s stress. If a payday loan is the problem — and often it is — then the society helps arrange a 12-month bank loan capped at $2,000 at 2.2 percent interest. The society co-signs the new loan with the borrower and uses the proceeds to retire the high-fee and high-interest payday loan. Nancy, for instance, is now able to repay the more affordable bank loan in $159 monthly installments.

Michael Pazzaglini, the loan program’s executive director, plans to expand the program next month to the society’s nine-county region in North Texas. Even then, he says, the program won’t be able to handle more than 60 or 70 loans a year without being overwhelmed. “We’re still a sophisticated Band-Aid,” he said. “This problem needs to be fixed because it is draining people altogether.”

Texas cities must be part of the solution, too. In the absence of state action to regulate abusive payday lenders, cities owe it to their residents to continue to lead payday lending reform in Texas. Dallas is among a coalition of more than 20 cities statewide that have passed zoning and other ordinances to limit abusive payday lenders.

There’s no excuse to allow predatory loans to cripple lives. Dallas stepped up; it’s time for other cities — including big ones like Plano, Arlington, Fort Worth and Irving — to join the reform fight.

PS I have had the honor of serving on a national committee chaired by Michael Pazzaglini and can testify to his dedication to serve those in need in a variety of ways.

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