Washtenaw County nonprofits to host town hall on predatory lending

Friends In Deed, Circles Washtenaw County, and United Way of Washtenaw County will host a town hall on predatory lending next Tuesday, Nov. 5.

 

Predatory lending occurs when a loan has an agreement that benefits the lender and is unfair or abusive to the borrower. Predatory lenders typically target those in poverty, communities of color, and the elderly to agree to loan terms that the borrower doesn't need, doesn't want, or can't afford.

 

Laurie Sternberg, director of communications and development at Friends In Deed, says the town hall's goal is to help Washtenaw County residents avoid dangerous financial situations.

 

"Once you fall prey to it, it is an enormous hole to climb out of," Sternberg says. "If you didn't realize the fine print and you're stuck with a car payment you can't afford, it snowballs and can affect other things."

 

At the event, community members involved in Circles Washtenaw County will share their own experiences with predatory lending. Those will range from having a payday loan to having a car loan with a kill switch – meaning the hour the payment is overdue, the switch turns on and prevents the vehicle from starting.

 

Circles is a national program, conducted locally through Friends In Deed, with the goal of permanently lifting families out of poverty through education, training, and relationships. Circles has previously hosted workshops and events on housing and voting.

 

The town hall will also host a panel with government officials including U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, state Sen. Jeff Irwin, and state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud. Jessica AcMoody, senior policy specialist from the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, will moderate the panel.

 

Sternberg says government officials will share current legislation that can assist borrowers who are stuck in an abusive loan, as well as pending legislation that would cap interest rates in Michigan.

 

The town hall will be held at St. Luke Lutheran Church, 4205 Washtenaw Ave. in Pittsfield Township, on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.

 

Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at emily@emilybenda.com.

 

Photos courtesy of Circles Washtenaw.

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