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Poor Communities Lose Billions to Predatory Lenders

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Payday lenders and pawn shops are more common in poor neighborhoods (Wikimedia Commons)

Payday lenders and pawn shops are more common in poor neighborhoods (Wikimedia Commons)

 

By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Predatory lenders continue to target poor, Black and Latino communities, siphoning off $103 billion in fees and interests every year, and the rest of us are paying for it, according to a recent report by United for a Fair Economy.

“This is more money lost in poor communities than the United States spends on domestic food aid annually,” the report said. “We as a society end up subsidizing that lost income (an average of $3,029 per affected household) through a social safety net that is already underfunded and overcapacity.”

In “State of the Dream 2015: Underbanked and Overcharged,” United for a Fair Economy (UFE), an independent research group that advocates for economic equality across race, gender and class lines, chronicled the disparities that continue to plague the banking industry.

Mike Leyba, the communications director at UFE and co-author of the report said that systemic economic exclusion, largely based on race, has existed for hundreds of years in the United States.

The free labor of kidnapped and enslaved Africans enabled White male land owners and the financial institutions that supported them to accumulate massive amounts of wealth over hundreds of years.

Following the Civil War, Jim Crow laws and “The Black Codes,” continued to deprive freed African slaves of economic opportunities for decades.

After World War II, the GI Bill provided White male veterans a pathway to college, professional careers and a boost into the middle class, a bridge that was closed to Black veterans who also fought and spilled blood overseas. Later, the Federal Housing Administration blocked Black families from moving into suburban neighborhoods, built with and partially funded by government subsidies.

“More than a quarter of all White families shifted from renting to owning in the twenty years following WWII,” stated the report. “Despite laws to the contrary, Black people were excluded from buying homes in White neighborhoods and were forced instead to live in urban ghettos.”

According to the UFE report, less than 1 percent of all mortgages from 1930 to 1960 were issued to Black people.

By 2013, the median wealth held by White families ($141,900), dwarfed the median wealth ($11,000) of Black families.

“As an estimated 80 percent of assets come from transfers from prior generations, the history of the financial situations of prior generations is a primary cause of the racial wealth gap,” stated the report.

Leyba said that economic exclusion, largely based on race still exists, but it’s much harder to pinpoint.

“It may not be legalized or sanctioned by the federal government,” said Leyba. “But it still exists.”

Economic exclusion continues to plague the banking sector, leaving 93 million Americans “unbanked” or “underbanked.”

“The unbanked are people that do not have any type of consumer checking account, and are outside the entire banking system,” the report explained. “The underbanked are people that have a checking account, but also rely on Alternate Financial Service Providers.”

According to the report more than 20 percent (20.5 percent) of Black households were unbanked in 2013, compared to 3.6 percent of White households.

Forty percent of Black households were full-banked compared to 75.4 percent of White households.

Alternate Financial Service Providers or AFSPs include payday loans, auto title loans, rent-to-own shops, subprime credit cards, high-interest rate installment loans, check cashing, prepaid reloadable debit cards, and money orders, the report said.

Researchers found that people shun traditional banks in favor of AFSPs for a number of reasons. Fifty-eight percent said that they didn’t have enough money to meet minimum balance requirements to keep an account open, while others (17 percent) said that past credit problems made it difficult for them to open new accounts.

In recent years, following the housing crisis banks, Chevy Chase Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America paid out multi-million dollar settlements in mortgage lending discrimination lawsuits involving Black and Latino borrowers.

But even if Black customers were able to meet the minimum requirements, had good credit and confidence in banks, the contraction and consolidation in the financial sector following the Great Recession have placed traditional banks out of reach for millions of Americans.

AFSPs moved in to fill that void.

“Payday lenders are nearly eight times as concentrated in neighborhoods with the largest shares of Blacks and Latinos compared to White neighborhoods, draining nearly $247 million in fees per year from these communities,” the report said. “Even after controlling for income and a variety of other factors, payday lenders are 2.4 times more concentrated in Black and Latino communities.”

As local bank branches fade away, Leyba said, community businesses dry up.

“What we’re seeing with more large corporate banks taking over those local branches, it makes it so that there is very little incentive for them to invest in that local area,” explained Leyba. Especially, when the large corporate banks can get a much higher yield from other financial products, he added.

UFE researchers suggested that the United States follow other industrialized nations such as France, Germany, Japan, China, Brazil, India, and New Zealand by offering more banking services through local post offices, which have a much larger foothold in urban and rural communities than banks.

The report said that nearly 40 percent of post offices are in zip codes “without a single bank,” and about 20 percent are in zip codes with just one bank.

“In addition to handling money orders, transfers, and debit cards, postal window clerks have experience cashing checks, processing refunds, renting post office boxes, preparing bank deposits, and maintaining business accounts,” the report said.

The report also recommended reforming the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), modernizing payment technology to keep pace with the new realities of banking and adopting national standards to cap the interest rates on payday loans.

Leyba said that lending circles that provide small community-based loans, have also been successful in emerging markets.

“We know that not everyone will find their way into the banking system, as there is no way to make that happen either through policy solutions or innovations in products,” stated the report. “What policy makers and advocates can do, though, is look for ways to attract, retain and encourage people to begin to build assets, build a favorable credit history and ultimately begin down the path of wealth creation.”

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Business

Don’t Be Chick’n and Try Something Vegan!

What was originally known as Compassion Meals in Sacramento has now rebranded and blossomed into a vegan fried chick’n food truck based at Lake Merritt in Oakland, called Don’t Be Chick’n (DBC). 

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Outside of the Don’t Be Chick’n Food Truck at 277 Grand Ave. in Oakland. Photo by Isabelle Price.

What was originally known as Compassion Meals in Sacramento has now rebranded and blossomed into a vegan fried chick’n food truck based at Lake Merritt in Oakland, called Don’t Be Chick’n (DBC). 

Owned and operated by Nkoyo Adakama, the food truck that began operations July 3 serves vegan soul food based around the star theme of the truck, the vegan fried chick’n. 

While Adakama’s start in the food industry was rough due to racial attacks against her and her business in Sacramento, Don’t Be Chick’n seems to have received great traction in Oakland. Before the food truck, DBC had pop-up locations at New Parkway Theatre and Au Lounge on Broadway that were such a success that they led the way for the food truck to make its debut. 

The prices for the food are a bit on the higher end and the wait, not including the line, for the food is roughly 30 minutes. However, if you are looking to support a business owned by a Black woman and want to try some solid vegan soul food while enjoying Lake Merritt, I would recommend going to this food truck. Adakama’s food reminds me of a vegan dupe for Raising Canes.  

The truck is located at Lake Merritt, usually at 277 Grand Ave. in Oakland, generally from about 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Both the location, hours and menu may vary during the week, so it is important to follow their Instagram account for frequent updates. For any questions or catering requests, they can be emailed at contactus@dontbechickn.com. 

All information for this article was gathered from Don’t Be Chick’n Instagram and website and an Oaklandside story. 

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Business

August is National Black Business Month

August 1st kicks off National Black Business month. And although Black businesses should be supported year-round, all month long people across the country are encouraged to recognize and support Black-owned businesses. 

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Black woman owned business/Photo Credit: Isabelle Price

August 1st kicks off National Black Business month. And although Black businesses should be supported year-round, all month long people across the country are encouraged to recognize and support Black-owned businesses. 

The origins of National Black Business Month can be traced back to 2004 when Frederick E. Jordan teamed up with John William Templeton, president and executive editor of eAccess Corp., a scholarly publishing company, to have August recognized as National Black Business Month. 

Jordan and Templeton also encouraged local government officials, community leaders to address structural barriers that adversely and disproportionately impact Black-owned businesses—namely a lack of access to capital. 

“It’s important that we take this time not just to promote Black Business Month, but support Black businesses,” said Ronald Busby, president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce.

“As we reopen America, it’s important we acknowledge the wealth gap that exists between Black families and White families has grown. The real way to address the wealth gap through the creation of new black-owned businesses and broad support of those businesses. In order for there to be a Great America, there’s got to be a Great Black America,” he said.

Busby encourages readers to visit the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce’s website to learn about programming, events and resources available to Black entrepreneurs and businesses. 

Busby also acknowledged the impact the COVID-19 has had on the Black businesses, who he says were hit the hardest. According to a report by the House Committee on Small Business, between February and April 2020 Black business ownership declined more than 40%–which is noted to be the largest decline across any racial group. 

According to the United States Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy there are more than 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in the U.S. Black businesses realized a 34% uptick from 2007-2012. Black-owned firms generate an average of $150 billion dollars in annual receipts.

Firms owned by Black women continue to grow at an exponential rate. According to Forbes  businesses owned by Black businesses grew 67% from 2007 to 2012, compared to 27% for all women, and 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any female demographic during that time frame.

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Bay Area

Nancy Lieberman Congratulates Kaplan and AASEG, continues to support efforts to Bring a WNBA team to Oakland

This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.

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Nancy Lieberman/ Wikimedia Commons
This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan was pleased to hear that National Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman was pleased too. Both parties had a lengthy conversation back in February, about the business of the WNBA and some of its hurdles. Kaplan told Lieberman the AASEG ( www.aasegoakland.com), and the motion she brought forward received a resounding approval (6-0-2) vote from Oakland City Council members to pursue terms to acquire the City’s 50% interest of the Coliseum Complex.
This critical vote came just three days after the Alameda County Joint Powers Authority unanimously approved a resolution to begin negotiating with the AASEG to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.  With these successive actions, the AASEG can formalize negotiations with City staff toward a Purchase and Sell Agreement for the Coliseum Complex.
Nancy Lieberman is one of professional basketball’s most celebrated female players and an American sports Icon. Nancy truly represents the theme of what is being proposed by the AASEG investment group. The council heard Ray Bobbitt, of AASEG and 97-year-old Gladys Green, present the goal of women leadership and ownership of a WNBA franchise as its primary agenda.Nancy Lieberman has an established record for being a leading advocate and supporter for social and racial equality her entire professional career. She has often credited the African American community, for supporting her and inspiring her possibilities. Now, that she is on the other side of her legend, she wants to pay it forward. Nancy and her business advocate Gary Reeves, said they plan to join a conversation with Ray Bobbitt and Rebecca Kaplan to review a potential alliance soon.

Nancy Lieberman loves the community outreach and civic leaders, who have paved the way for this opportunity. She cited the AASEG for its extensive community support. She said she is looking forward to meeting the AASEG community members and to give high praise and thanks to Rebecca Kaplan for her full-court press-style of support for AASEG, women’s sports, minority businesses, housing and job opportunities for the homeless and formerly incarcerated populations. Lieberman and Gary Reeves, her Bay area-based business advocate, want to meet and work with Gladys Green who is the inspirational leader of the East Oakland community and to congratulate Gay Cobb for the Post News Group’s extensive coverage and the recommendation that AASEG make an offer to purchase the coliseum.

In addition to working as Nancy Lieberman’s business advocate, Gary has been campaigning for support from a Who’s Who list of philanthropists and investors to support a home ownership pledge for those that need their down payments bridged to help them become home owners. During the pandemic his group, along with Lieberman, provided over 1 million dollars in free PPE and clothing for those in under-resourced areas. Oakland was also a benefactor of that program with BPL campuses and the Al Attles Foundation, ACE (Attles Center for Excellence)

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