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Program raises awareness of payday loan issues, proposed new regulations

Predatory payday lending practices have created a debt crisis in Alabama.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, along with Christ the King Catholic church and Alabama Appleseed, is sponsoring a presentation at St. Mary’s to educate the community about predatory payday loans.

“People need to learn about the implications of payday loans,” the Rev. Cindy Howard of St. Mary’s said. “The poor community are the people suffering from these type of loans so if we can educate them then we have taken a step forward.”

Howard said she hopes that people will show up, because it is an important topic

Father Wayne Youngman of the Christ the King Catholic Church said that he agreed to co-sponsoring the presentation because it is the right thing to do.

“We need to shed a light on this problem and help the poor work on their debts,” Youngman said.

Dana Sweeney, from Alabama Appleseed, will be the presenter of the evening. Alabama Appleseed is affiliated with the national network of Appleseed Centers located throughout North America. Appleseed was founded in 1994 with the mission to develop and help sustain a network of state advocacy centers that address local issues and develop and promote practical, systemic solutions.

Sweeney is a statewide organizer for Alabama Appleseed. His work focuses on the crisis of predatory lending in Alabama, and he is responsible for mobilizing communities across the state in coordinated efforts to curb the exploitative financial practices of predatory lenders.

According to the Alabama Anti-Predatory Lending Coalition, Alabama has more payday lenders than any other state per capita, and the lending problem is hurting local businesses. The coalition said that every one-dollar spent paying back a high-cost lender takes almost two dollars out of the local economy due to depleted consumer finances and increased bankruptcies.

Earlier this week, the Alabama Senate approved legislation that would give borrowers 30 days to repay payday loans. Currently, borrowers have to repay funds as quickly as 10 days. The bill moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

The entire community is invited to the local presentation on Thurs., March 15, at 6 p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 1307 East Three Notch Street.