Catholic Charities Helps Oklahoma Resident Pay Off Payday Loans
By Lindsay Frankel
Faith-based nonprofit Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has been serving residents of Enid, Oklahoma with a range of social service programs since 1997. Last year, 877 people, 89 percent of whom were not Catholic, received services in Enid. In a press release, the organization shared the story of Susan, a Catholic Charities client, who found herself in hard times financially.
Due to mental health issues resulting from a life of trauma, Susan found it difficult to keep a job. She knew she needed help with her finances, since she was behind on rent and utilities, and was deep in debt from payday loans. Payday loans in Oklahoma carry an average APR of 391 percent, making it difficult for borrowers like Susan to get ahead of the payments.
Susan was surprised by the impact that Catholic Charities had on her financial situation. “As a non-Catholic, I was unsure of how Catholic Charities might be able to help me. What they did from here forward changed my life forever,” she said. The organization provided emergency assistance for utilities and rent, allowing Susan to pay her bills so that she could focus on repaying her payday loans.
Payday loans are a big problem for Oklahomans, according to analysis from Pew Charitable Trusts. The state has the highest payday loan usage rate in the nation; one in eight adults in Oklahoma has borrowed from a payday lender. Nick Bourke, director of consumer finance at Pew, said that “may have something to do with the fact that there are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Oklahoma and not a lot of other programs set up in Oklahoma to help people be financially successful.”
Often, Enid payday loans trap borrowers in debt, forcing them to renew their loans. People like Susan frequently require assistance getting out from under payday loan debt.
In addition to providing financial assistance, Catholic Charities also helped Susan learn healthy financial habits. The counselor and case manager helped her recognize how to be a good employee, how to set a budget, and how to maintain healthy relationships.
Establishing goals and getting out of debt set Susan on a positive path, according to the press release. She now has a savings account and a steady job at which she was recently promoted.
Susan is not the only Enid resident who has benefited from the services offered by Catholic Charities. Now celebrating 22 years of service in Enid, the group has become an integral part of the community. Deacon Tony Crispo of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church said the organization makes a real difference in the financial lives of residents.
“Every day they work to help people pay their bills and counsel them on how to manage their money and live a better life,” he said.