Payday Lenders Target Blacks and Latinos

By Daisy Hernandez Mar 26, 2009

File this one under "things we suspected but didn’t have data to prove." A study released today shows that payday lenders in California target Black and Latino neighborhoods and in the process drain $247 million from these communities. The Center for Responsible Lending, which conducted the analysis, is asking California to put caps on the loan rates. Although the wonks didn’t say it like this, I will: Hey, California why don’t you try following the lead of…North Carolina? They went after the payday lenders with success. If you don’t know what a payday loan is here’s the basic scenario: you have a j-o-b (lucky you), but you’re strapped for cash until your next paycheck (yeah, this is just hypothetical). You see a store advertising "fash cash now" and learn that you can take out a loan against your next paycheck. You’re going to pay about $45 for every $255 you get and you think, "No problem. I’ll take care of it with my next paycheck." Payday comes and… there’s the rent, the car needs a new radiator hose, Pablo wants the money you owed him from last month. In comes, the payday lender again. You borrow against the next paycheck, and the next, and….In California alone, payday borrowers have an average of 10 loans per year. The researchers found that even when taking into account income and educational attainment, payday lenders are still 2.4 times more likely to be concentrated in Black and Latino communities than in white neighborhoods. Fifteen states already have a cap on the interest rates payday lenders can charge.