Tuscaloosa area churches and civic leaders are gathering to establish a new resource for low-income residents. This program will become available Spring 2019.
Using the First Presbyterian Church of Auburn, Alabama’s Presbyterian Community Ministry nonprofit corporation as a model, the group plans to make no interest loans available to eligible citizens for housing and utility needs, including money for emergency rent, mortgage and utility bills; for minor house repairs; for appliance, plumbing and power repairs, additions, or replacements; and any other living expenses.
The organization will be called People’s Loan Program and the following mission statement has been created:
People’s Loan Program provides no-interest loans to residents of the West Alabama community, offering hope and dignity to those in financial distress.
The new organization will work with “local municipalities, corporations and agencies in the areas of housing, food, and emergency loans and grants for usual and unusual expenses.”
This ministry will offer an alternative to the injurious payday loan process. Payday loans allow borrowers with a bank account to use a check dated in the future as collateral for a cash loan. Each $100 borrowed through a payday loan in Alabama carries a “loan origination fee” of up to $17.50. Those charges occur with every renewal of the loan. With a typical 14-day loan period, this is an annual percentage rate (APR) of 456 percent.
Payday lenders are notorious for targeting older Americans, military service personnel, and communities of color. Their practices also harm the larger community – a recent study concluded that for every dollar paid in interest to payday lenders, $1.94 leaves the community.
We invite you to join us in this innovative project that will offer our community and neighbors relief from the negative effects of the loan-debt cycle.
To date, a total of $40,000 has been pledged from three area churches. By-laws are being drafted and a board will soon be formed.
To get involved or for additional information, please contact Rev. Cathy C. Hoop at Grace Presbyterian Church, 205/758-1193.