The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Germonique R. Ulmer 202-339-9331;

Leading Progressive Nonprofit Supports New Campaign to Cap Loan Interest Rates at 10 Percent

Metro Industrial Areas Foundation to launch “Ten Percent is Enough” campaign


Today, the Center for Community Change
endorsed the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation's (IAF) call for capping consumer
loan interest rates at 10 percent. IAF announced their "Ten Percent is Enough"
campaign, a national effort seeking to reinstate usury laws, today
with a multi-city kick off that included over
one thousand clergy and lay leaders.

"The 'Do Nothing Coalition' of
Republicans, Wall Street lobbyists and certain Democrats who are afraid of their
own shadows opposes limiting the interest rates which have propelled millions of
people into unsustainable debt," said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the
Center for Community Change. "We believe a ten percent cap on interest rates is
enough to allow credit to flow to all worthy borrowers. It is enough to allow bankers their fair
share of profit, and it is enough to protect families from permanent

The Metro Industrial Areas Foundation's
(IAF) "Ten Percent is Enough" campaign proposes the cap on every credit card and
personal loan, including pay day loans and rapid-return tax refund businesses.
Today's economic crisis has underscored the need to protect communities and
highlighted the impact usurious interest rates have on families.

Usury laws, which protect consumers from
abusive interest rates, were in place in
America until 1980, capping rates at 9 percent
during that time. Since then, hundreds of thousands of families
have fallen victim to unfair lending practices. Pauline Charles of
Baltimore borrowed $1,000 from a title loan
company and was required to pay $300 a month to repay. After falling behind, she was required to pay
$600 a month, eventually repaying $11,000 for a $1,000

As part of the campaign to reinstate
usury laws, Metro IAF sent letters requesting meetings with the CEOs of the
nation's five largest credit card companies: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase,
Wachovia/Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Capital One. Participating cities launching the campaign
today include Chicago, Washington, New
York, Durham, London and Boston.

The mission of the Center for Community Change is to develop the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better.