Janneke Ratcliffe

Janneke Ratcliffe is associate director for the University of North Carolina's Center for Community Capital.

Recent Articles

A Bridge to Somewhere

How do we build the road from predatory lending to good financial services for all Americans?

(Flickr/Andrew Bain)
For most Americans, the banking system is a tool to manage our money and build security. Through an array of competitively priced financial products, we can cheaply and easily convert income into assets, make payments, store and invest money, and borrow for consumer purchases, homes, and businesses. To the extent that we flourish, so too do the institutions within this system. Unfortunately, lower-income consumers operate within a separate and decidedly unequal system. Mainstream providers have little interest in competing for this high frequency/low-balance business, forcing lower-income families to rely on check cashers, payday lenders, pawn shops, automobile-title lenders, high-priced credit cards, tax refund advance lenders, and predatory mortgage lenders. Given the premise that low-income people are a meager source of business, the scale of the sector is mind-boggling. Today, check-cashing and payday-lending outlets in America outnumber all the McDonald's, Burger Kings, Targets,...