Nick DiNardo is a fellow parent of Walnut Hills High School kids. Our sons played on the same junior high soccer team, and our daughter participated in the Ultimate Frisbee club that he leads/coaches.
Nick’s day job is Managing Attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. He was featured in a Cincinnati Enquirer special section a couple of Sundays ago. The Enquirer is doing a four-part series on the lingering effects of the Great Recession, and it’s well worth the reading investment. You quickly realize how the economic collapse of a decade ago created an even greater divide between the haves and the have nots, and how the cards are stacked against the poor.
The article that featured Nick is about payday lenders. After reading it, the term usury comes to mind.
The article is a great example of how hard it is for the poor (including the working poor) to keep their heads above water. All it takes is a single, solitary, unexpected expense — an urgent care visit or car breakdown — to crush you.
Most payday loan customers are poor, earning about $30,000 a year. Most pay exorbitant fees and interest rates that have run as high as 590%. And most don’t read the fine print, which can be unforgiving.Cincinnati Enquirer article
Read the article to find out how a working single mom wound up paying $3,878 for an $800 loan. And she’d still be on the hamster wheel if not for Nick’s intervention.
Payday lending may not be illegal, but it sure as heck is unethical.
DiNardo hopes the new Ohio law regulating the loans will mean fewer cases like hers in the future, but he’s not sure. While mortgage rates go for 3.5% and car loans hover around 5%, poor people without access to credit will still turn to payday lenders for help.
And when they do, even under the new law, they’ll pay interest rates and fees as high as 60%.
Cincinnati Enquirer article
In DiNardo’s world, this is progress.
It’s not “just business”…. and it’s not anywhere close to being just.