A Jackson city councilman wants to put a halt to the expansion of payday loan stores, check cashers and liquor stores in the capital city.
Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps plans to introduce an ordinance that would put a moratorium on business licenses to such companies at the Jackson City Council's regular meeting on Feb. 9.
From there, the proposal would likely go to the planning committee. The City's Department of Planning oversees zoning. Stamps, who represents south Jackson on the council, said that what he calls the "fringe economy" of people living in or close to the poverty line is stifling the city's economic growth.
"We've got to figure out what we're going to do to change the economics of the city," Stamps told the Jackson Free Press in an interview.
In the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard from the Washington, D.C.-based Corporation for Enterprise Development, a nonprofit think tank that support policies that help low-income families, Mississippi ranked 51st among states for economic outcomes. The state was No. 48 for the quality of policies that help low-income people out of poverty.
Mississippi's law governing payday-loan stores originally contained a provision that the law would need to be reauthorized every few years. In 2013, lawmakers approved legislation to remove that so-called sunset provision so that lawmakers would not debate the law each time it expired.
In 2014, Ed Sivak, then-director of the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, testified to the Mississippi House Banking Committee, saying: "We must be honest with ourselves and recognize that Mississippi finds itself in an untenable predicament today because we have failed, at multiple junctures, to implement meaningful, state-level consumer protections for small-dollar loans. The failure of all of us to implement meaningful consumer-oriented reforms has created an environment where abuses occur, that, in my opinion, will fuel the (U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) to work vigorously to rectify," Sivak, now a vice president with Hope Enterprise Corp., told the committee.
Charles Lee, director of consumer protection at the Mississippi Center for Justice, points to a notorious stretch of Ellis Avenue—where there are more than a dozen payday lenders—as indicative of how successful the businesses have been in Mississippi, home to the most payday-loan companies per capita in the nation.
"People use what's closest to them. If that's the closest financial—quote—institution to where they live, that's what they'll use," Lee said.
Stamps said he's open to partnering with organizations like MCJ and Hope on a financial literacy program.
"We have people who have been using check cashing for generations, so we have to teach them banking," Stamps said.