Dallas city leaders vote to block opening of payday lending chain

By Lori Brown

The City of Dallas blocked a payday lending chain on Wednesday from opening a business.

The owner is a state lawmaker, whom one city councilmember accused of not following the law.

Dallas City Council member Jerry Allen has spent four years fighting against the payday lending practices that he says entrap the city's most vulnerable residents.

In his final time in the "horseshoe" on Wednesday, he got to take one more stand.

The city council followed his lead and voted 15 to 0 against allowing a new payday lending store to set up shop in the city.

It's not just any owner the city said no to -- he is State Rep. Gary Elkins of Houston.

"He's sued Houston, San Antonio; he's sued Dallas," said Allen.

Allen said that is one reason he thought the city should deny Elkins's latest request.

"A lawmaker that makes laws and then thumps his nose at other laws, that's disheartening," said Allen.

Rep. Elkins did not return FOX 4's phone calls for comment.

In the past, he has fought the Dallas ordinance that limits payday loan amounts and limits renewals.

Consumer groups say predatory payday lending practices can trap society's most vulnerable in deep financial holes.

"Before a person knows it, they are in this cycle," said Ken Goodgames with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas. "They can't get themselves out of it, get another loan and another loan and another loan, until it's impossible to get out."

Four years ago, there were 240 payday loan businesses in Dallas. Now, only 120 remain.

Allen says since the city cracked down on high interest lending practices three years ago, community loan centers have opened in Dallas that lend at lower rates.

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