Dubuque Considers Zoning Regulations on Payday Lenders

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Dubuque is considering new limits on payday lenders. That's after, the Iowa League of Women Voters said those companies prey on the poor and vulnerable.

Allied Pawn and Check Cashing is one payday lender in Dubuque. Owner Jamie Smith says customers line up when they're short on cash.

"We call it 'too much month and the end of the money," Smith said.

Allied lends customers cash but it comes with a state-maximum $15 dollar interest charge for the first $100 and $10 for every additional $100. But Smith says there is nothing predatory about that.

"It's not what you think," said Smith. "The notion that there are all these poor and down trodden customers is not the case. Most of our demographic makes 25 to 45 thousand dollars per year. "

Council Member Karla Braig disagrees and is asking her council colleagues to consider controlling the number of Pay Day Lenders in Dubuque.

"Payday lenders prey on the people who can least afford to take out the loans," said Braig.

That could include banning lenders from opening within 2,500 feet of homes or an existing lending store.

"The only other business we do that on a regular basis for is adult entertainment.," said Dubuque City Planning Services Manager, Laura Carstens.

Smith says Payday Lenders gets a bad rap for a business he says helps thousands of people each year.

"It's ridiculous. Statistics that they use are skewed to make it look like the information that they get fro some of these organizations is tailored to get the results that they want, " said Smith.

Although his business would be grand-fathered in to any potential ordinance, Smith just wants to make sure the rules remain fair.

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City each already have a similar. Those cities keep Payday Lenders from opening within 1,000 feet from a home or existing pay day business.
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