‘Unbanked’ Minnesotans Hurt Most by Predatory Lending

July 24, 2013
MinnPost.com (MN) 
payday lending news

More than 360,000 Minnesota households that are “unbanked” or “underbanked” do not have access to reasonably priced, basic financial services, according to a 2011 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Several community organizations in the state are concerned with connecting underbanked families with safe, affordable financial services. Otherwise, these households rely on costly alternatives with high fees and interest rates, such as payday loans, check-cashing business, or pawn shops. Some nonprofits offer financial counseling and innovative financial products, many designed to meet the needs of specific racial, ethnic, or cultural groups. For example, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), an organization for Latinos in the Twin Cities, is partnering with San Francisco-based Mission Asset Fund to test a social lending program designed to improve participants’ credit scores. Participants contribute monthly to a “pot” that is awarded to each participant in turn; each month, the Mission Asset Fund notifies credit agencies of the payments made, which boosts participants’ credit scores. The African Development Center, meanwhile, is located in the largely Muslim/Somali Minneapolis community of Cedar-Riverside, where it promotes financial well-being through education and counseling and uses a micro-lending system that does not violate the Islamic prohibition on charging interest. Bank On takes a broader approach, working with mainstream financial institutions, city governments, and local community organizations to remove general barriers to banking.

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