: News

Baltimore’s Cash Advance Alternative

Play associated audio
Darrell Witherspoon stands with his wife Velma and his grandchildren in front of the house he was able to rent in part with the help of a loan through the "Borrow and Save" program administered by Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore.
Cathy Duchamp
Darrell Witherspoon stands with his wife Velma and his grandchildren in front of the house he was able to rent in part with the help of a loan through the "Borrow and Save" program administered by Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore.

By Cathy Duchamp

Community organizers in Baltimore are using a carrot and stick approach to wean people off cash advance loans.

The carrot: a $1,000 loan at eight percent interest. The stick: you have to go to financial fitness class to get the money.

Darrell Witherspoon jumped at the offer.

"I grabbed the number as soon as I seen it. I said ‘I can’t believe this is happening.' This is what I want, way better than the alternative was," says Witherspoon.

The alternative was a cash advance loan with a double-digit interest rate. Witherspoon says he did that before and it took about three years to get clear of all the repayments. The “Borrow and Save” program is sponsored by banks, the FDIC and managed by Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore.

Witherspoon used his loan to pay some bills and move to a safer neighborhood with his wife and grand-kids. But he says the financial counseling was more valuable than the cash. One lesson: pay yourself first.

"So now I snatch $40 out of my pay no matter what going to a savings account just to make sure I got a little extra that I don’t need or don’t touch. That’s a plus for me," he says.

About 100 East Baltimore residents now have loans through Borrow and Save.

NPR

Comic-Con Fans Continue The Epic Battle Between Science And Fiction

Fans of science fiction have long wrestled with the question of just how much science should be in their fiction. Advocates of different approaches met at San Diego's Comic-Con.
NPR

Scraped, Splattered — But Silent No More. Finally, The Dinner Plate Gets Its Say

Instagram is the Internet's semi-obsessive, borderline-creepy love letter to food. But behind every great meal is a plate doing a pretty-OK job. So a comedian made an Instagram to celebrate plates.
NPR

Leaked Democratic Party Emails Show Members Tried To Undercut Sanders

Just days before the Democratic National Committee convention gets underway, WikiLeaks releases almost 20,000 emails among DNC staff, revealing discussions of topics from Bernie Sanders to the media.
NPR

Making The Cloud Green: Tech Firms Push For Renewable Energy Sources

Few people can demand what kind of electricity they get. But Microsoft and Facebook, which operate huge, power-hungry data centers, are trying to green up the electricity grid with their buying power.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.