Jubilee Assistance Fund

A biblical answer to the problems of predatory lending

By Terri Scott.

In Scripture the Jubilee Year is a time when unpaid debts are forgiven and lands are returned to their original owners. Modern lending practices, however, rarely follow this biblical tradition. In particular, the practice of predatory lending—unfair or deceptive loan practices, often targeted at low- and moderate-income consumers—can cause more financial hardship than the loans alleviate because of high interest rates and deceitful practices.

“In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property.” —Leviticus 25:13

Enter the Jubilee Assistance Fund, a collaborative loan program established by the Virginia United Methodist Credit Union. Here’s how it works: a local church establishes an account at the credit union to provide collateralized small, short-term loans with very low interest rates for individuals who would not qualify for loans otherwise. To qualify for the Jubilee Assistance Fund, the church member covenants with the church and agrees to receive financial counseling, loan monitoring and payroll deduction. The loans can help persons in crisis with rent, mortgages, medicine, utilities and food. They can also be used to refinance a predatory lender loan and help the borrower escape the crushing interest rates associated with those loans.

Want More Info?
See The Washington Post article “Churches step in with alternative to high-interest, small-dollar lending industry” by Rebecca Robbins, or visit the Virginia United Methodist Credit Union.

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