D.C. Circuit Court Decision Is a Victory for Consumers

By Renato Rocha, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to rehear a case, PHH Corp. vs. CFPB, that would have seriously weakened the efficacy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Last October, a three-judge panel attempted to make it easier to remove the director of the consumer agency, allowing the president to fire the director at will. The full federal appeals court decided that it will revisit the issue at a hearing in May, effectively scrapping this earlier decision, and allowing the CFPB’s structure to continue as Congress intended.

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Three Key Findings on Hispanics with Debt in Collection: Results from CFPB’s Recent Survey

By Renato Rocha, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Photo: Pictures of Money

Debt collection in the Latino community is a critical consumer protection issue for one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing communities.

Latino families need access to affordable credit but have been historically excluded or discriminated from accessing safe financial products. The FDIC’s 2015 Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked households indicated that a result of this persistent economic injustice is that Latinos and other consumers who have been outside the financial mainstream are vulnerable to financial shocks, such as health-related expenses or job loss. Having been sidelined from affordable products, Latinos have little choice but to turn to more expensive credit to pay for their expenses. For example, 39 percent of Hispanic households used an alternative financial product (such as a payday loan) in 2015, compared to just 17 percent of White households.

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Judge Blocks 12.5 Million Workers from Receiving Overtime Pay

By Yuqi Wang, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

On November 23, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Department of Labor’s (DOL) updated overtime eligibility rule from going into effect by suspending the rule’s December 1 enforcement date. The Department of Labor’s (DOL) updated overtime rule, finalized in May 2016, would have brought employers and workers into the 21st century by increasing the overtime salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. By siding with business interest groups, the Court’s decision is a blow to the 12.5 million workers who were counting on the updated overtime rule to provide them with the right to be compensated fairly for a hard day’s work. Workers in office and administrative positions, transportation and material moving professions, as well as construction occupations are just some of the people severely impacted by this decision.

It’s important to note that, contrary to the Court’s assertion that the DOL exceeded its authority, the agency has had the ability to change the minimum salary threshold for overtime for the past 78 years. In fact, the DOL has updated the salary threshold seven times since the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) became law in 1938.

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Chartering “Fintechs” Puts Consumers at Risk

By Renato Rocha, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Earlier this month, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced its plan to move forward with chartering financial technology (fintech) companies that offer bank products and services. This decision could drastically erode vital state oversight and consumer protection laws that protect working class Americans from predatory financial practices.

Fintechs may be interested in a national charter so that they can comply with federal rules rather than seek licenses state-by-state, allowing fintechs to lend money, issue checks, and/or hold deposits at the national level. However, if chartered, fintech lending companies would also be able to avoid state interest rate caps due to the general absence of federal usury caps. For instance, in the context of payday lending, predatory fintech lenders would be able to offer small-dollar loans with limitless interest rates in states where payday lending is categorically prohibited. This would be harmful because consumers would be exposed to costly financial products and services, effectively stripping hard-earned money from American families still recovering from the recession.

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Making the Fair Housing Act Work for Everyone

By Agatha So, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

A good home is the foundation for a better education for our children, enhanced employment opportunities, and a safe and stable place for families. We recently celebrated National Homeownership Month, and we are reminded of the ongoing role of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in ensuring that American families have equal opportunity to find a place to call home.

Our President and CEO Janet Murguía shared remarks at this year’s National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) Conference, reaffirming the relevance of fair housing to NCLR’s mission of making the American Dream of homeownership accessible for Latino families. Since 1988, NCLR has been working with NFHA to ensure that the promise of the FHA continues to be a reality for all Americans.

The FHA has been a critical tool for the civil rights community to ensure that communities of color, in particular, are protected from race-neutral, and other forms of housing discrimination that would affect them disproportionately, as in the case of Texas v. Inclusive Communities Project.

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