“The bible calls this usury and our faith calls it sin.”
That’s Rev. Paul Slack’s assessment of US Bank financed payday lender programs, which he says is trapping poor people in a cycle of debt and borrowing that they cannot get out of. Slack is president of ISAIAH, a group of religious leaders that is urging its 250,000 members to move their money out of US Bank.
According to ISAIAH, US Bank has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars in capital into the payday loan industry, including providing financing to Payday America and ACE Cash Express, the two largest payday lenders operating in Minnesota. ISAIAH is calling on US Bank to stop financing predatory payday lenders and their “toxic” 300% interest rates, and instead to offer its own affordable, small loan products and to support programs that help people escape the payday loan debt trap.
Slack says US Bank is “profiting off of the misery of the poor.”
Environmentalists and teachers also pressure US Bank
Environmentalists and teachers also want people to move their money out of US Bank. MN350 is calling on US Bank to divest from fossil fuel companies and instead invest in renewable energy such as wind and solar projects. US Bank invests billions of dollars in some of the industries that MN350 says disproportionately pollute communities of color and that are causing runaway climate change. One example is Enbridge Energy, a pipeline conglomerate that transports tar sands oil mined in Canada through Minnesota and other parts of the U.S.
The St. Paul Federation of Teachers say US Bank’s mortgage foreclosure program is causing a major disruption in students’ lives as their families are forced to move. Students may have to change schools or even districts, adjust to a different curriculum, and develop new relationships with teachers and peers. Involuntary residential moves and within-year school switching can have detrimental effects on children’s academic and social development. They are calling on US Bank, with which the St. Paul Public Schools bank, to adopt a policy that during the school year it will not foreclose on any home where school-age children reside unless they have first offered foreclosure mediation with a neutral third party.