Houston Must Rein in Predatory Loans

August 15, 2013
Houston Chronicle  
payday lending news

Democratic state Sens. Rodney Ellis, Sylvia Garcia, and John Whitmire have proposed that Houston become the next Texas city to implement payday and auto title ordinances. Adding Houston to the eight cities that already restrict the short-term lending industry could encourage a push for statewide reform of the sector. The legislators write that a strong ordinance regulating these loans can help improve the economic conditions of Houston's citizens. Although Texas has laws to protect residents from usury, payday loans have no fee or rate caps in the state; and many of these type of products carry annualized percentage rates upward of 500 percent. They note that payday lenders drain $1.25 billion from the state economy each year and about $240 million from the local economy, all while trapping borrowers in debt. Houston alone has more than 550 payday and auto title storefronts; and each week, 140 cars there are repossessed by title lenders. An omnibus bill to regulate these businesses across Texas failed to pass due to the influence of the payday and title loan industry; but Ellis, Garcia, and Whitmire insist that "it is not in our community's best interest, nor is it wise to perpetuate the industry's message that [low-income residents] only have predatory loans to turn to."
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