2020 Policy Platform
New Yorkers for Responsible Lending (NYRL), a statewide coalition of more than 160 non-profit organizations, promotes economic justice as a matter of racial and community equity.
NYRL’s 2020 policy platform addresses the economic challenges and injustices that New Yorkers face, and reflects NYRL members’ experiences working in communities across New York State.
• Pass the Consumer and Small Business Protection Act (CSPA): NYRL strongly supports A679C/S2407C—a long overdue bill amending New York’s primary consumer protection statute (GBL § 349) to conform with the majority of state consumer protection laws that broadly prohibit unfair business practices. The bill provides consumers and small businesses greater access to justice in various transactions including financing, mortgages, insurance, and student loans. Other bill components include simplifying pleading requirements, enhancing the ability of individuals to bring cases, increasing the outdated damages cap, and mandating payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees.
NYRL’s Workgroup Priorities Also Include:
• Protect Consumers Facing Abusive Debt Collection Lawsuits: NYRL supports the Consumer Credit Fairness Act, A6909/S4827, which addresses the epidemic of abusive debt collection lawsuits, often brought by debt buyers, that lead to default judgments against consumers without proper notice or evidence that a debt is even owed. The bill also protects consumers from the collection of “zombie debt” that is beyond the statute of limitations.
• Prevent Predatory Auto Lending: NYRL supports legislation addressing predatory subprime auto lending, particularly A7585/S5947, which reinstates interest rate caps in auto lending. These caps were removed in a prior wave of financial deregulation, creating a gap in New York’s otherwise progressive usury laws. This bill closes that gap.
• Keep Payday Lending Out of New York and Provide Safe Alternatives to Predatory and Usurious Lending: New Yorkers are sick and tired of payday lenders’ relentless schemes to undermine our state’s strong usury (interest-rate) caps, including attempts to expand check casher services, permit ubiquitous access to high-cost credit through online apps, or introduce high-cost loan products in novel areas such as pension advances or litigation funding. Instead of permitting high-cost loans that lead to an inescapable debt cycle, New York should meaningfully invest in safe alternatives, such as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs). NYRL supports funding New York’s CDFI Fund and expanding the lending capacity of CDFIs and CDCUs by allowing municipal and state governments to place deposits with them.
• Prohibit the Use of Credit Report Data and Other Socioeconomic Factors in Insurance Rating and Underwriting: NYRL supports A.7040 which bans the use of credit reports and other socioeconomic factors in the underwriting and pricing of home and automobile insurance. Insurers’ use of this data often has a disparate impact on people and communities of color and disproportionately burdens lower-income New Yorkers with higher insurance costs. The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) recently banned the use of education and occupation as ratings factors for auto insurance pricing, but use of credit report data continues to have serious discriminatory impacts.
• Homeowners’ Insurance Data Disclosure: NYRL supports A.2348 which would require residential property insurers to disclose data regarding the geographic locations of policies written, premiums collected, and losses incurred. Transparency regarding where insurers are writing homeowners’ policies would help ensure fair access to affordable, quality insurance for homeowners in low-income communities and communities of color.
• Continued HOPP Funding: NYRL seeks the inclusion of $20 million in this year’s budget for the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), and urges New York State to identify a permanent funding source for HOPP. HOPP is a network of 87 non-profit housing counseling and legal services providers working with distressed homeowners to avert foreclosures, and is the primary bulwark against proliferating deed theft and foreclosure rescue scams. HOPP contracts expire March 31st each year, putting these critical services for distressed homeowners in continual jeopardy.
• Require mortgage servicer information to be provided in court filings: NYRL supports A6976/S4190 to improve transparency and accountability, and to ensure that all parties currently participating in the litigation are identified to the court and to all parties in the action. The bill requires disclosure in the lis pendens, order of reference, and judgment.
• Greater accountability of for-profit higher education institutions: NYRL supports A7769/S5799 requiring for-profit colleges to report financial statements and data on student enrollment, completion, and job placement to the New York State Education (SED) Department. For-profits often charge steep tuition, spend little on instruction, and leave students with degrees that can’t get them the jobs needed to pay off their debt. Nearly half of the state’s student loan defaults emanate from for-profit schools. Greater transparency will allow SED to identify bad actors before they harm students and waste taxpayer dollars.
• Support funding for the Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program (EDCAP): NYRL supports $1 million in the budget to fund EDCAP, helping distressed borrowers manage their education debt and regain financial health. Funding will expand EDCAP to provide a statewide toll-free “Helpline” run by the Community Service Society, and one-on-one assistance through community-based organizations and legal services. EDCAP ensures student loan borrowers receive accurate information about their rights, how to manage their loans, and how to avoid decisions that can ruin credit and keep them in debt for life.