For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2022
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In just one year, Illinois consumers have saved over $200 million in fees for high-cost loans, and families in underserved communities are finding safer alternatives for accessing cash
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Photo above: state Rep. Sonya Harper spoke at a news conference this morning as Woodstock Institute Senior Vice President Brent Adams and President of the Illinois State Conference NAACP Teresa Haley looked on.
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois families paid over $500 million per year in payday and title loan fees – the fourth highest in the nation – before Illinois passed a law that caps the interest rate for consumer loans.
Illinois joined 17 other states and the District of Columbia in capping interest rates on payday loans at 36% when the Predatory Loan Prevention Act (PLPA) took effect one year ago today. The PLPA forced predatory lenders to make a choice: lower your rates or leave. The number of payday licenses in the state has gone from 407 to 10. The PLPA is helping break cycles of endless debt and bankruptcy in Black, Latino, and underserved communities.
“We are proud to announce today that the PLPA has changed the financial landscape for our Black communities in Illinois,” said state Rep. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago), joint chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. “For over 35 years, legalized loan sharking in Illinois sapped billions of dollars from lower income and Black and Brown communities. For many, an infusion of cash – whether it be through a stimulus check or a tax refund – would leave their pockets and go directly into the pockets of the predatory lenders, most of whom are based out-of-state.”
Stopping predatory lending is a racial justice issue and was part of a package of legislation championed by the Black Caucus last year.
“After years of championing efforts to rein in predatory practices within our state’s financial system, I am pleased to celebrate the anniversary of my legislation capping interest rates on all types of consumer loans,” said State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago). “Communities of color experience greater disparity in lending than their White counterparts, and in order to break the poverty cycle supported by unfair business practices, we must continue to make structural changes to our economic system.”
Ending abusive and excessive triple-digit interest rates charged by payday lenders, auto title lenders, pawnbrokers, and others helps struggling families avoid crippling debt and bankruptcy.
“Protecting consumers is a passion for Senator Collins,” said Senate President Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat. “Her hard work to get this law enacted has given a strong voice to the financial victims who suffered the perils of predatory lending.”
Research by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau showed that more than four out of five payday loans are re-borrowed within a month, and the majority of payday loans are borrowed by consumers who take out at least 10 loans in a row.
“Predatory loan practices can affect anyone, but Black and Latino communities had long been disproportionately impacted by unfair interest rates on short-term loans,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “The Illinois Predatory Loan Prevention Act is a commonsense law to cap interest rates and protect our most vulnerable Illinoisans.”
Woodstock Institute, along with elected officials and partnering organizations, is celebrating and reflecting on the PLPA’s 1st Birthday. This legislation has helped protect families experiencing hardship.
At the same time, aware the cash shortages are real, Woodstock partnered with New America Chicago and the Chicago Urban League to launch a joint initiative called WeProsper Illinois. WeProsperIL.org, which is in English and Spanish, provides safe and affordable alternatives to predatory loans, including strategies to lower bills and boost income – strategies that don’t require families to take on more debt. For families who need to borrow money.
“As expected, the payday lenders and other high-cost lenders chose to leave town rather than charge affordable rates,” said Brent Adams, Senior Vice President, Woodstock Institute. “In their wake, affordable lenders are expanding and more families are addressing their financial needs without taking on more debt.”
The PLPA was part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’s Economic Equity agenda and passed the Illinois General Assembly in January 2021 by a large bipartisan majority. It was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on March 23, 2021.
Woodstock Institute is a leading policy and research nonprofit that advocates for consumer financial protection and community economic development. Our work seeks to combat structural inequities and to improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Among our areas of focus are predatory lending, access to banking, debt collection, and municipal fines and fees.