In the late 1990s, homeowners began coming to Self-Help Credit Union seeking help to avoid foreclosure. Unfortunately, it was too late for many of these families. Unscrupulous lenders already had stolen their home equity—their greatest source of wealth and future financial security. The targets for this theft are often among our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly and working families in minority communities. Our "tipping point" came the day one family showed us the paperwork on their $29,000 loan--where they had also been charged $15,000 in fees!
In response to these abusive--and completely legal--loans, Self-Help worked with a state coalition in 1999 to help pass the North Carolina Predatory Lending Law, the first such law in the country. In 2002, Self-Help established the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, NC to build on initial successes and expand our focus to include practices outside of mortgage lending, such as payday lending.
CRL had immediate impact providing technical assistance to other state-based coalitions. Soon after, we established a permanent presence in Washington, D.C. for federal activity. In 2005, CRL created an Oakland office to monitor closely predatory lending in California. All three of our offices work together to provide a national voice against abusive financial practices.