“It was a rollercoaster ride for me”: woman talks about her struggle to get into the cycle of debt because of high-interest loans
A small crowd of anti-poverty activists gathered for a midday protest Tuesday outside one of the many thrift stores in London, Ontario.
The demonstration was led by an organization called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). They continue to call on the federal and state governments to set new interest rate caps.
About a dozen ACORN members gathered outside the Money Mart at Wellington Road and Commissioners Road.
Betty Morrison was one of the speakers at the meeting. She has been in a cycle of debt for over 20 years and said she started with high yield payday loans.
“It was a roller coaster ride for me going to one [loan]to pay another, to pay another,” she explained.
Morrison said that she once paid her debt but is currently on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and said that people living in poverty feel trapped, and admitted that she received another high interest the day before the -protest borrowed to buy groceries.
Morrison said a low-interest bank loan was not an option, telling CTV News London: “Don’t even look at me. No one listens to me when I go in there with my credit score. They are not good.”
One of the main changes that ACORN is seeking is for the federal government to reset the so-called criminal interest rate – that rate is currently 60 percent. ACORN wants it to be 20 per cent plus the Bank of Canada interest rate, or 30 per cent, whichever is lower.
They also want all borrowing costs to be included in that interest rate, curbing what they call predatory interest rate practices.
“You are collecting money from those who can least afford it,” said Claire Wittnebel, a member of ACORN London. “They take advantage of those most in need.”
This was one of eight protests taking place across the country as part of what ACORN is calling the National Fair Banking Day of Action. At one point, protesters went to the Money Mart to deliver a letter to employees that could be sent to headquarters. The staff did not come to the bank and shout “shame, shame”.
The protesters left the letter on the counter and left the store.
Shortly after the police arrived and took them out into the street, the gathering broke up a short time later.