Sacramento, Calif. (October 4, 2022) – Today, the Economic Justice Fund (EJF) launched the Equitable Opportunity Loan to provide small dollar loans ranging from $500 to $2,500 to borrowers in California who have an urgent need for capital but are unable to access financing from traditional lenders.
The Equitable Opportunity Loan offers access to fair and affordable loans for low, very-low-, and extremely-low-income borrowers in need of financing for emergency expenses or to refinance out of a predatory loan. In addition, the Equitable Opportunity Loan enables unbanked or underbanked borrowers to establish and build their credit histories, receive complementary financial education, and qualify for additional financing from EJF after they have paid their loans in full.
The Equitable Opportunity Loan offers fair and affordable terms that are tailored to meet the needs of a wide range of low-income borrowers in California:
- Low, fixed interest rates ranging from 5.9% to 14.9%
- Fee-free financing—no application fees, no origination fees, no servicing fees, and no prepayment fees
- Flexible terms ranging from 12 to 36 months
- Flexible underwriting standards that allow EJF to approve borrowers that traditional lenders do not
- Complimentary ACH disbursements that enable next-day available funds
- Automatic recurring monthly loan payments
The vast majority of lenders in California do not offer small dollar loans to low-income borrowers who are unbanked or underbanked. Those that do typically offer egregious predatory loans that further undermine the borrower’s financial well-being.
Fair and affordable small dollar loans are critically needed in California. According to a survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on access to banking services in 2021, more than 25% of Californians are unbanked and underbanked. In other words, nearly 10 million California residents lack access to safe and affordable financial products.
According to the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), payday lenders in CA made nearly 6.1 million loans totaling $1.68 billion in 2020. Loans to repeat borrowers accounted for 69% of all payday loans in 2020 and 78% of the aggregate dollar amount—clear evidence of the vicious cycle in which predatory payday lenders trap their borrowers. The DFPI also found that 49% of payday loan customers had average annual incomes of $30K or less, and 30% had average annual incomes of $20K or less.
These alarming statistics show that low-income families in California have been deeply and disproportionately impacted by the prevalence of predatory payday lenders. These families struggle to pay their monthly bills and are unprepared to withstand a sudden financial emergency.
Aware of these inequitable conditions, EJF’s Equitable Opportunity Loan will provide affordable loans to meet the needs of low-income borrowers who cannot secure financing from other sources.
About the Economic Justice Fund
The Economic Justice Fund is a mission-driven, nonprofit financial institution dedicated to providing fair, affordable financing and free credit building services to empower borrowers to realize their dreams. Our loans have low fixed rates, no application fees, no origination fees, no servicing fees and no prepayment fees. We also offer flexible terms and flexible underwriting to meet the needs of a wide range of borrowers. For more information, visit www.economicjusticefund.org.