Springfield's city council will consider payday loan resolution

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Regulations on payday loans are the center of one group's message to Springfield City Council. They've been protesting for months against an industry that has gone unregulated: payday loans.

"This industry takes advantage of those people trapping them in debt with over 450 percent interest rates on a two week loan," said Susan Schmalzbauer of Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri.

She calls for a cap on those interest rates, and for strengthened proposed rules when it comes to ability to repay. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposes that lenders check a borrower's ability to repay the loan after six loans.

"With giving a free pass to six loans, this is protecting a predatory business, and we want to call the agency to do as their name says," said Schmalzbauer.

That's the message they're taking to City Council on Monday night in an effort to get council members to pass a resolution that asks the protection bureau to crack down on the payday loan industry.

Pastors in the same group that's against payday loans are getting into the loan business themselves at University Heights Baptist Church. They're taking money they make at the church and putting it into a credit union across the street.

"Our church provides the financial backing for loans to persons who are already taking out numerous payday and title loans," said Danny Chisholm of University Heights Baptist Church.

He says they are not doing it to get any money back.

"We don't receive any interest off the money we provide. This is a gift we are providing through backing the loans and any interest that is received goes to the credit union and it is at a substantially reduced rate," said Chisholm.

He wants other churches to do the same, and plans to also speak to council about it to fix what's behind cycles of debt: payday loans.

Leaders from this church and several other faith-based groups have been pushing for months to get tougher regulations on payday loans. Now they are trying to get city council to do the same.

Groups like Faith Voices of Missouri started protesting payday loans back in June. That's the same time when the government's consumer financial protection bureau proposed putting tougher regulations on the books. One of those includes requiring the payday loan companies to consider ability to repay the loan first. But the group says that's not enough. The chances say "ability to repay" will only be considered after the person takes out six loans.

They want that to change.

"What we found is that it only takes one or two of these unaffordable loans to trap consumers in debt, the consumer financial protection bureau is about protecting consumers with giving a free pass to six loans this is protecting a predatory business, and we want to call the agency to do as their name says," said Susan Schmalzbauer of Faith Voices.

Springfield's city council members could vote on the resolution at Monday's meeting.