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Been trying to reach council member Jerry Allen ever since yesterday; no luck so far. But we know where he'll be at 3 today: in the Flag Room at Dallas City Hall, standing beside Dr. Frederick Haynes and Rev. Gerald Britt at an anti-payday lender press conference on behalf of the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas. Writes CitySquare president and CEO Larry James this morning: "The Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas is a new coalition that seeks to move 250,000 people out of poverty permanently by 2020 by coordinating efforts to keep people from falling into poverty and increasing pathways out of poverty."
One of those ways, insists James and those attending this afternoon's presser, is shutting down and running out of town payday lenders whose loans, James writes, "create a treadmill of debt." The coalition has two exit strategies: getting the state Legislature to exclude payday lenders as credit service organizations (as proposed in HB 410 and SB 253) and having the Dallas City Council pass what it calls "a strong zoning ordinance to decrease the clustering of payday and auto-title lending stores."
Allen was down in Austin in late February begging state senators to protect the "long-term financial health of our Dallas citizens." And his trip came just two weeks after the council passed a resolution urging the Legislature to crack down on payday lenders and "pass any necessary legislation to protect the citizens of the State of Texas who may find themselves with no alternative but to seek the type of short-term, high-interest, unregulated loans offered by credit service organizations."
The coalition's proposed ordinance would "mandate that a minimum of 1,000 feet must exist in between payday and/or auto title loan shops," according to this morning's announcement. It's unclear, though, whether the council itself wants to take action against the payday lenders. Which is why the coalition, whose membership includes the local chapters of United Way and the Urban League, says it will announce plans at the press conference to "gather 5,000 signatures on a petition in support of this proposed zoning ordinance."