In SVCF’s region, the economic recovery has not reached many individuals and families who are still trying to rebuild their finances or struggling to regain employment. Too many of those without access to legitimate financial services are turning to payday lenders who charge annualized interest rates that average more than 400 percent on small, short-term loans. Many of these lenders are concentrated in communities of color and neighborhoods where low and very low-income families live.
Through their grantmaking, Silicon Valley Community Foundation has been critical in the passage of a moratorium on new payday lenders in Pacifica, which has more of these establishments per capita than any other city in San Mateo County. Two other cities are now exploring legislation. Through their advocacy, SVCF helped ensure passage of a new bill that will provide a four-year, statewide pilot program that will provide small-dollar loans at lower interest rates. This will ensure that consumers have an alternative to taking out multiple payday loans, a practice that can trap them in a cycle of deeper and deeper debt. And through their convening, SVCF partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco last year to host 100 leaders of financial institutions, social service agencies and government to explore additional alternatives to ensure that all sectors of the region have access to credit.