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Payday Lenders Linked to Uptick in Crime: Experts Focus on VA Tonight

January 28, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. - The link between payday lenders and an uptick in violent crime in the neighborhoods where they do business is the topic of discussion tonight at the University of Virginia in Richmond. Gregory Squires, professor of Sociology, Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University, co-authored a report on the subject, and is headlining the event.

Squires says that, historically, payday lenders have been located in predominantly poor, minority neighborhoods, but in recent years, they are popping up in other areas. While victims of crime and many of the customers of predatory lending suffer, there is much more to the story, he adds.

"If you own a home or if you own a business, your property values are going to be adversely affected. It will make it more difficult for new businesses to think of opening up in these communities."

Critics accuse payday lenders with charging excessive interest rates and fees. The lenders maintain they are offering valuable services to markets that are ignored by conventional banks and credit unions.

Delegate Glenn Oder (R-94), Newport News, is sponsoring two bills that share bipartisan support. If HB 412 and HB 413 pass, he says, localities would have the authority to limit the number of lending stores that may operate in an area.

"This legislation would give people in the community a chance to comment and tell their elected representatives whether or not they think that this store is appropriate, in this location, in their city."

The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the University of Virginia, 626 E. Broad St., Richmond.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA