NAMPA — Kathryn McNary paid her title loan with its 450 percent interest rate on time for two years before she missed a payment. One day before she intended to pay the bill, her van was repossessed by the title loan company without any warning.
McNary, a Caldwell resident who took out the loan from a Nampa business to pay a power bill, said she had to walk everywhere for six months — and her home is three miles outside of Caldwell.
But McNary said it turned out to be a good thing, because she got out of that cycle of debt and now has a new vehicle. The lesson she learned from that experience is what led her to protest payday loan establishments on Caldwell Boulevard Monday night with members of the Idaho Community Action Network.
“(Payday loan businesses) charge too much interest rates; they are robbing us blind, ” McNary said. “People end up paying out the nose, and they get trapped.”
The protest was part of Shark Week — but not the Discovery Channel variety. This campaign is part of National People’s Action, a network of grassroots organizations. Payday loans advertise quick loans for those who need cash fast, and borrow against a person’s paycheck or sometimes the title on a vehicle. Although many states place restrictions on payday lenders, Idaho has limited regulations and does not have caps on interest rates, which can go as high as nearly 600 percent in some cases.
Terri Sterling, director of the Idaho Community Action Network, said her organization focused on Nampa on Monday partly because the city has 24 such businesses.
“What we see as reasonable is 1 (business) per 10, 000 people, ” Sterling said, and Nampa is home to less than 90, 000. “So we have way more than we need.”
The organization is asking Nampa City Council to consider a similar ordinance to the one passed by Caldwell City Council at the end of 2013. Such businesses in Caldwell are no longer permitted in commercial areas, only manufacturing and light industrial zones. It also required any new payday loan businesses to apply for a special use permit in front of the City Council if they wish to open in a commercial area.
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