Advocates are once again pushing lawmakers to pass legislation that would cap annual percentage rates for small loans. Hoosiers for Responsible Lending wants rate caps in place to help protect thousands of people in the state from predatory lending.
The coalition is made up of veterans’ organizations, religious communities, consumer groups and social service providers. The group supports legislation by Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) and Representative Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) that would cap payday loans at an interest rate of 36%.
“For the past four years I have listened to the predatory lending industry trying to defend itself and justify why it should exist in our state. And I wasn’t convinced, frankly I find their arguments defenseless, ”said Hamilton, author of Bill 1159. “We have an obligation to protect vulnerable users of this industry. It’s an industry that harms every user it meets. And that only benefits the owners, mostly out of state, of those facilities that lend into our communities. “
Indiana is one of 25 states with no high rate cap on payday loans. This means that lenders can have annual percentage rates as high as 391 percent.
Angela Espada, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, said the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had been trying for years to get state and federal lawmakers to limit interest rates and protect vulnerable populations.
“You can hear people say that are associated with payday loans, ‘Well that’s because these are high risk people,’ Espada said. “Well, when you can withdraw money in some states straight from a paycheck, it’s not really a high risk. It’s about as safe as it gets.
Marie Morse is the General Manager of HomesteadCS located in Lafayette. The association works with families and individuals by offering alternative loans to predatory loans. Morse said his organization would like all Hoosier families to have access to affordable interest rates.
“Since our program started in 2016, we’ve loaned over $ 2 million and saved our families over $ 3 million in interest,” Morse said. “And that’s money they desperately need to save for their housing.”
A survey conducted in 2018 for the Indiana Institute for Working Families and Prosperity Indiana found that 88 percent of Hoosiers approve a 36 percent cap on payday loans.
Both HB 1159 and Senate Bill 253, drafted by Alting, have been assigned to committees, but have not yet been heard. Similar bills introduced in previous sessions were not adopted.