Fresno City Council Votes to Move Forward on Restricting Payday Lenders

City joins growing national backlash against debt traps created by payday loans

Fresno- November 22- The Fresno City Council voted yesterday to move forward on the legislative process to enact an ordinance restricting new payday lenders in the city. If enacted, the ordinance would require lenders to obtain a conditional use permit and would create “buffer zones” of at least a quarter of a mile between payday lenders.

Fresno joins several other California cities in moving to restrict payday lending.  Earlier this week, the Gilroy City Council voted to move forward on an ordinance, and in recent months, cities including Long Beach and Sunnyvale have adopted similar land-use and zoning ordinances to restrict payday lenders.

Yesterday’s vote adds to a national, growing momentum against payday loans.  On Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced its first enforcement action against a payday lender, which includes $14 million in refunds to customers and a $5 million fine.  Two bank regulators, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, released new rules yesterday related to bank “direct deposit” loans that are similar to payday loans.  The guidance from the regulators requires stronger consumer safeguards and means banks like Wells Fargo and US Bank will face strong scrutiny from regulators if they chose to continue making these loans.

Liana Molina, payday campaign organizer with the California Reinvestment Coalition, explained the importance of the vote: “The stories shared by faith leaders and payday loan consumers made it clear the status quo of making profits by offering predatory loans to low-income people is no longer acceptable.  Fresno residents don’t want any more of these businesses or the financial heartaches they create for families.”

Faith in Community, a coalition of Fresno congregations, attended yesterday’s hearing, and supports restricting payday lending.

Additional Background: 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Takes Action Against Payday Lender: LINK

OCC and FDIC Release Guidance on Bank Payday Loans: LINK

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced earlier this month that it will accept complaints about payday lenders. Consumers are encouraged to visit: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

Are you a Californian who has used a payday loan and would like to share your story? Do you want to get involved in local efforts to restrict payday lending in our communities? If so, please contact Liana Molina, CRC’s Payday Campaign Organizer: Liana@calreinvest.org  or 415-864-3980.

To stay up to date on financial justice issues in California, especially as they relate to low income communities, and communities of color, you can follow the California Reinvestment Coalition on our Facebook page, via TwitterGoogle+, watch our movies on our YouTube Channelsign up to receive our newsletter and action alerts, and of course, visit our website.

 

Celebrate LA Reinvestment

On a beautiful Thursday, November 7, evening, CRC members and friends gathered to celebrate Los Angeles Reinvestment.  More than one hundred people filled a room at the Music Center of Los Angeles County, to honor the important work of community heroes, network and enjoy fine food and drink at CRC’s thirteenth LA celebration.

James Zahradka, CRC Board of Directors’ Chair and Namoch Sokhom, Director of PACE Business Development Center, welcomed the crowd and thanked those present for supporting CRC and reinvestment in Los Angeles. Every year, CRC honors individuals and groups with CRA Panther awards for the significant impact they make in the communities they serve.  CRC presented four Panther awards this year to community heroes.

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Inner City Struggle

CRC Board member and Director of the Community Wealth Department at East LA Community Corporation, Daniel Rodriguez, introduced Maria Brenes, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle (ICS).  ICS works tirelessly for social and educational justice in the communities of East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Lincoln Heights. ICS organizes youth and families to push for equitable opportunities and quality education to ensure all students graduate and attend college as well as for the opening of neighborhood schools.  Recently, their efforts led to the establishment of wellness centers at local high schools and increased access to the School District’s Breakfast Program.

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Khmer Girls in Action

Namoch Sokhom, CRC Board member and Director of the Business Development Center at PACE, gave the CRA Panther award to Lian Cheun, Executive Director of Khmer Girls in Action (KGA). KGA does outstanding work to help Southeast Asian young women in the City of Long Beach to blossom like lotus flowers and become powerful forces in the movement for social justice. KGA works to bring better health services and justice to Long Beach and to improve graduation rates for Khmer girls and all students.  The girls organize to make their voices heard, empower themselves, and educate elected officials and community leaders.

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Pat Pinto

CRC Board member and Executive Director of the Southern California Housing Rights Council, Chancela Al-Mansour, introduced Pat Pinto from the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. Ms. Pinto is an extremely effective advocate for at-risk homeowners in the entire Los Angeles and Orange Counties area.  She is a leader in developing the Foreclosure Mandatory Settlement Conference program to assist homeowners in Orange County and has advised Advocates for Consumer Justice on how to structure such a program in Los Angeles County.

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Vermont Village Community Development Corporation  

Lori Gay, Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County introduced Robert Rubin, Executive Director of the Vermont Village Community Development Corporation (VVCDC). VVCDC is based at the Crenshaw Christian Center and has opened its doors for multiple large-scale foreclosure prevention events for borrowers in trouble in South Los Angeles.  The CDC works closely with the Center for Foreclosure Solutions as a counseling referral source for thousands of home owners and parishioners. As part of the NSP 2 consortium, VVCDC has worked to rehab dozens of homes and numerous multi-family REO properties to respond to the mortgage meltdown.

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(Above) Lori Gay introduces Panther Award recipients Vermont Village Community Development Corporation; (Below) Executive Director Robert Rubin accepts the award on the organization’s behalfDSC_0210

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CRC Board member and Executive Director of VEDC, Roberto Barragan, presented a proclamation from Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Executive Director Alan Fisher.  Roberto and the Board of Directors thanked Alan for his years of service.

CRC Board Chair James Zahradka recognized the many community leaders in the gathering and thanked them for attending and introduced.  He also introduced Paulina Gonzalez, who will begin work as CRC’s executive director in January 2014.

Everyone present recognized the outstanding work being done by the honorees as well as many in the audience.

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Fresno Bee: Another Editorial Board Against Predatory Payday Lending

payday lender vultures

The California Reinvestment Coalition was happy to read the Fresno Bee’s editorial about an ordinance to restrict payday lending in Fresno: Fresno should regulate new payday loan shops.

The editorial explains that Fresno’s City Council will consider zoning ordinances and land use regulations for new payday lenders later this week.

Councilmember Oliver Baines is advocating that Fresno establish rules that would include requiring a conditional use permit before a payday lender could open, and requiring a minimum distance of a quarter mile from other payday lenders.

Councilmember Baines points out that 90% of the lenders are from either other parts of the state, or not even California companies, meaning the profits from the companies are not reinvested in Fresno’s economy.  This net economic loss totaled $3.6 million in 2011, according to research by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

In CRC’s 2013 report, “Down in the Valley: Financial Neglect in Rural California”, we found that the San Joaquin Valley has a whopping 140 check cashing and payday stores per 100,000 households compared to only 51 bank branches per 100,000.

In light of the California legislature’s inaction on payday lending reform, CRC has worked with city leaders in a number of cities across California to implement payday lending reforms, including Fresno, with recent successes in Sunnyvale and Long Beach.

A resolution and ordinance proposal will be heard by Fresno City Council on Thursday morning.

Last night the Gilroy City Council unanimously voted to move forward with developing a permanent ordinance, as well.

A final vote will take place in 2014 for both Gilroy and Fresno.

Are you a Californian who has used a payday loan and would like to share your story? Do you want to get involved in local efforts to restrict payday lending in our communities? If so, please contact Liana Molina, CRC’s Payday Campaign Organizer: Liana@calreinvest.org  or 415-864-3980.

To stay up to date on financial justice issues in California, especially as they relate to low income communities, and communities of color, you can follow the California Reinvestment Coalition on our Facebook page, via TwitterGoogle+, watch our movies on our YouTube Channelsign up to receive our newsletter and action alerts, and of course, visit our website.

JPMorgan Chase Settlement: Good Steps Forward, But More Should Be Done

November 19, 2013—Responding to reports of a final settlement between the US government and JPMorgan Chase, Kevin Stein, Associate Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, released this statement:

“While details are still emerging, some of the provisions in the settlement will go a long way towards helping homeowners who are struggling to keep their homes. We applaud the focus on principal reduction modifications for first mortgages (modifications that are statistically the most likely to help keep people in their homes) and support the appointment of a strong monitor to oversee the settlement. The bank committing to provide additional quality loans to low and moderate income home buyers is welcome, and could be an antidote to all-cash investors and Wall Street firms that are buying up properties and pushing out first-time home buyers.

CRC also has some concerns about the settlement: 

1) The independent monitor should require Chase to submit demographic information on their customers who are facing foreclosure, and whether or not the bank offers modifications to these customers and their neighborhoods to ensure that hardest hit communities receive help, and that fair housing and lending laws are followed.

2) Chase should stop any foreclosure proceedings for borrowers who might be eligible to receive relief under this settlement so that they are not foreclosed on while waiting for a modification.

3) It appears the bank could receive credit for granting forbearances, wherein a homeowner’s monthly payments are temporarily reduced, but their loan balance is not. In most cases, offering a forbearance to a homeowner is a band-aid solution that merely postpones dealing with the underlying problem in the loan. Instead, the bank should focus on offering permanent, sustainable modifications.

4) The settlement reportedly includes $2 billion in fines to federal prosecutors. Some of that fine should be used to fund housing counselors and nonprofit attorneys who will work with homeowners to ensure they receive help under the settlement. Part of the fine should also be used to fund the development of more affordable, multifamily housing, a need that has only increased, especially in California, since the mortgage meltdown.

5) Lastly, if Congress doesn’t extend the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, or if it’s not addressed in the final settlement, the principal reduction modifications in this settlement could create unintended tax consequences for homeowners who are already struggling financially.”

In October, CRC, along with 17 other California nonprofits that directly serve homeowners facing foreclosure, released a statement, suggesting that all future mortgage settlements incorporate seven provisions, based on “lessons learned” from previous settlements.The seven provisions are listed below, for more detail on the provisions, visit this link.

All Future Mortgage Settlements Should Include:

1. Relief commensurate with harm caused.
2. Priority on keeping people in their homes through first lien principal reductions.
3. Support for housing counselors and legal service lawyers.
4. Stronger loan servicing standards
5. Support for affordable housing.
6. Transparency and data reporting to ensure relief is distributed fairly.
7. Strong enforcement and monitoring.

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California Reinvestment Coalition Announces New Executive Director

After an extensive, nationwide search process, the Board of the California Reinvestment Coalition is pleased to announce Paulina Gonzalez as CRC’s new Executive Director, effective January 2014.

Paulina has served as the Executive Director of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) for the past four years. SAJE is a Los Angeles-based economic justice, community development, and popular education center that has been building power for working-class people since 1996.

Paulina’s activism is rooted in her personal experiences; both of her parents were community activists, and her father lost his job as a garment worker in retaliation for his organizing efforts. After a successful run as a union organizer, Paulina brought her advocacy prowess to SAJE, where she played an instrumental role in collaborations that secured strong community benefit agreements with the University of Southern California and Geoffrey Palmer’s Lorenzo project.

Paulina has articulated and executed on a powerful vision of inclusion and economic opportunity for everyone in our community which aligns perfectly with CRC’s mission. In fact, CRC recognized Paulina, SAJE and UNIDAD for their work with a CRA Panther award in 2011. We are excited to see Paulina bring her energy, acumen, and passion for justice to CRC.

CRC’s Board is deeply grateful to Alan Fisher and his 20-plus years of leadership at CRC, and we know that Paulina is the right leader to build on Alan’s legacy and ensure that low-income communities and communities of color throughout California have fair and equal access to banks and financial services.

Please join me in welcoming Paulina and wishing her and CRC well as we begin this new chapter.

Sincerely,

James Zahradka

Board Chair

Where Did All Those Internet Payday Loan Ads Go?

Editor’s note: The CFPB, a federal agency, has proposed new rules for payday, car title, and high-cost installment lenders.

 

BUT, they need to hear from consumers- that means you! We have an easy-to-use page where you can weigh in- it only takes a minute and will help bring about important consumer protections with these loans. Please share a line or two in the comments box about why you care about this issue and want to see strong federal reforms.

PS: You do NOT have to be a payday, car title, or installment borrower to sign the petition.

Did you catch the NPR Planet Money program on Payday Lenders and Lead Generators?  It’s worth a listen/read:

I Applied For An Online Payday Loan. Here’s What Happened Next