Seniors often pay hefty price for relying on payday loans

(This is the third story in a series about the payday loan industry in Las Vegas.)

Don Miller has heard the same story many times: Seniors on a fixed income have an emergency come up — be it a medical bill or car problem — or when money runs tight and the fear of not having enough food takes over, they turn to their last resort, a payday loan.

“For the most part, our seniors get about $700, maybe $900, of income per month to pay rent and utilities,” said Miller, the seniors program manager for HopeLink, 178 Westminster Way, which provides assistance and resources to low-income people and families in Henderson and parts of Las Vegas.

“So when a crisis happens, they will take out $150 to buy food,” he said. “They don’t realize they might be paying on that for the next year or two.”

Miller joins a list of critics of payday lenders who argue that companies are targeting vulnerable communities, such as seniors. AJ Buhay, a field director for Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said it’s also true for communities of color.

“They target low-income families and communities,” he said. “You see more payday lenders set up in those communities. As a result, they are siphoning money out of communities of color.”

According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, roughly 12 million Americans use payday loans each year. Each borrower takes out an average of eight loans of $375 per year and spends about $520 on interest.

“We are seeing interest rates as high as 400 percent,” Buhay added. “When you’re unable to pay off the first loan, you take out another one. It puts you in a debt cycle.”

People without a college degree and those with incomes below $40,000 have a higher likelihood of taking out payday loans, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts, which also said blacks are more likely to take out loans than other races.

The Pew Charitable Trusts also looked at average ages for lenders. The highest rate of users is between 25 and 29. The percentage gets smaller over time. About 4 percent of people between 60 and 64 and 3 percent of people between 65 and 69 use payday lenders, according to the organization.

However, Miller has still seen a lot of the population he works with go into debt.

“I see about 80 to 100 seniors per week,” he said. “At least half have taken out a payday loan.”

Miller said HopeLink has helped seniors with food assistance, including delivering fresh fruit throughout the month. Even with assistance, he said emergencies happen and seniors don’t always know where to turn. When they meet with a payday lender, they don’t always realize the high interest rates that come attached to a loan.

Miller added that many end up defaulting on loans, which sometimes leads to harassing phone calls.

“These people are 80 years old, and they get someone calling them, threatening to send lawyers to their door,” he said.

While HopeLink can’t get them out of debt to a lender, the organization might try to find other ways to assist a senior.

“We try to catch (seniors) before they turn to payday lenders,” Miller said.

But he added that many feel they have no other choice, so they take out the loan anyway.

Organizations such as PLAN are collecting stories from people who have had bad experiences with payday loans. Visit the Center for Responsible Lending at responsiblelending.org to share stories. The organizations will be sharing stories with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in order to encourage the organization to make changes to the payday loan industry.

To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email mlyle@viewnews.com or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.

Local
Wagonwheel Drive overpass reopens after ice closure
Overpass at Wagonwheel Drive reopens after ice on the onramp caused the ramp to be shut down, Feb. 22, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Keeping warm at the city of Las Vegas’ homeless courtyard
With help from the city of Las Vegas, a Salvation Army shelter stays open during the day Thursday and Friday, offering a safe place for the homeless to find respite from freezing temperatures and snow. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sloppy, Slushy Road Conditions Lead to Slow Traffic
Traffic slowed to a crawl on Jones are near Russell as conditions worsened Thursday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Winter storm blankets west side of Las Vegas Valley
On Wednesday evening through early Thursday a winter storm dumped more than 7 1/2 inches of snow on some parts of the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas snow day for children
Las Vegas kids play in the snow that fell on Feb. 21, 2019. (Belinda Englman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow closes Red Rock Canyon, residents enjoy rare snowfall
The greater Las Vegas area was hit with snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2019. This video shows the areas surrounding Red Rock Canyon and the Summerlin community. Video by: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas kids attend school in the snow
Las Vegas children attend school during a rare snowstorm on Feb. 21, 2019. Staton Elementary School and other CCSD schools remained open. (Glenn Cook/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People enjoying the snow in Summerlin
Fox Hill Park in Summerlin was busy Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019, with people enjoying the rare snow that fell overnight. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP advises motorists to take caution during Las Vegas snowstorm
NHP advised motorists to take caution during the snowstorm in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Timelapse of snow at Red Rock Canyon
More than 7 inches of snow fell in the western areas of the Las Vegas Valley, including Red Rock Canyon, on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow falls at Fremont Street Experince in Las Vegas
Snow falls at the Fremont Street Experience early Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 in Las Vegas. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Summerlin
Snow in Summerlin on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (Anastasia Hendrix/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Snow At Red Rock Casino
Early morning snow in Summerlin on Thursday, feb. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Northwest Las Vegas sees heavy snow fall
Drivers on the 215 Beltway in northwest Las Vegas faced heavy snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow at Red Rock Casino and Resort.
Snow continues to fall Thursday morning in Summerlin. Heaviest snow west of 215.
Snow soccer in Las Vegas -VIDEO
Players enjoy a game of soccer during a snowstorm in the Anthem area east of Las Vegas on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow falls Wednesday evening in Las Vegas
Heavy snow began falling Wednesday evening in the southwestern part of the Las Vegas valley. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Snow falls on the Las Vegas Strip
Snow falls outside the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip as the Golden Knights play the Boston Bruins. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow near Deer Springs and Buffalo
Snow near Deer Springs Way and Buffalo Drive in the northwest Las Vegas Valley on Feb. 20, 2019.(Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Las Vegas at Red Rock Casino Resort
A winter storm brings snow to Red Rock Casino Resort in Summerlin on Feb. 20, 2019. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February 20 snow in Centennial Hills (Part 2)
Snowstorm in the far northwest valley. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February 20 snow in Centennial Hills
Snowstorm in the far northwest valley. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NDOT prepares for snow and ice from winter storm
The Nevada Department of Transportation gears up to keep roads open when snow and ice hit the Las Vegas valley.
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working cats at St. John the Baptist Church
Parish councilmember John Koutsulis talks about the two cats St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church have adopted as part of a working cats program.
Lee Canyon snow makes skiers smile
Skiers and snow boarders took advantage of the Presidents Day holiday and the recent snowfall at Lee Canyon, outside of Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston gets fresh blanket of snow
A winter storm drops nearly four inches of fresh snow on Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Mount Charleston outside Las Vegas. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in the Las Vegas Valley
Snow accumulated in the Las Vegas Valley for the first time in more than a decade, with snow falling mostly in the western, northwestern and southern areas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal) @bizutesfaye
Snow at US 95 and Lee Canyon Road
Passers-by pulled off Lee Canyon Road northwest of Las Vegas Monday to play in the fresh snow. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Road truck on an empty I-15
Snow and ice contributed to the closure of Interstate 15 near Primm. Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing