In the early 2010s, congregational members of Holy Trinity Church in South Minneapolis were alarmed when a payday lender set up shop in their neighborhood. In light of this, they became activated to educate their congregation about predatory lending practices and to mobilize organized support for those who were, and would become, affected by payday loans–and, hence, Minnesotans for Fair Lending was born.
When several surrounding ELCA congregations became interested in the work that was being done to combat predatory lending practices, and as it became clear that this issue would require more time and resources, the Minneapolis Area Synod took up the mantle alongside the congregations and coalitions already pushing for reform.
For the next several years MFL worked at the state level to advocate for legal guidance from the state legislature that would cap interest rates for payday loans to 36%. This strategy is what 18 states and Washington DC used in their successful fights towards economic justice, though the Minnesota legislature continued to fail to protect Minnesotans.
In December of 2020, city staff and leaders came together in Moorhead, Minnesota and successfully passed an ordinance that cracked down on payday lenders in the city. The ordinance, which was the first of its kind in the ongoing nation-wide effort to protect economically vulnerable citizens, focused on policy that would proactively work to keep people out of the debt trap. Solidifying the success of this new city guidance, the primary lender in the city, Greenbacks, closed shop on the first of January, 2021.
Following the 2020-21 legislative session, where payday regulations, once again, failed to be prioritized in spite of popular support from Minnesotans, MFL is taking this “Moorhead model” to cities across Minnesota. We are working with and in several cities throughout the state who have shown an interest in the actions taken by Moorhead staff and leaders, and are committed to the fight to end predatory payday lending in Minnesota.