For Blake*, a lifetime in and out of prisons, hospitals, and other institutions was threaded together by a history of substance abuse. Blake recalled going to payday lenders and pawnshops when he “wanted a bottle, or a bag, or, maybe even just a sandwich. You just get in there, and you just show ’em that you have a job. That’s all you need to do. And they give you money. And that cycle repeated itself for a while there. It was just part of life.”
However, something changed at the beginning of what was to be his last prison sentence. “The last time I went to prison, on the way there it was like an epiphany. It was like, there’s two common denominators here: one being me, and the other being drugs or alcohol. And then I decided to quit.”
In prison, Blake completed in-patient treatment for those with substance abuse issues and served the rest of his time. However, when he left, he found himself returning again to the costly yet familiar cycle of payday loan debt. But trying to pay off predatory debt while simultaneously working to rebuild his life proved to be difficult. Blake recalled sending a portion of every paycheck to pay off his debt, but at an interest rate of over 150%, he couldn’t start paying off the principal. Then, at a food shelf, Blake noticed a flyer for Exodus Lending. Shortly after discovering our program, both he and his girlfriend enrolled.
As they made their way through Exodus Lending’s program, Blake and his girlfriend were able to use the money they had previously been paying to payday lenders to cover essential expenses instead. During their time in the program, they set up a household budget that allows them to work together to spend wisely and save for the future. Now, when it comes to managing expenses, their motto is, “It’s not ‘I,’ it’s not ‘you,’ it’s ‘we.’”
When COVID-19 hit, Blake found himself in need of money to keep on top of his expenses while waiting to receive unemployment benefits. Instead of going to a payday lender, however, Blake took advantage of Exodus Lending’s COVID relief program.
Since refinancing his debt with Exodus Lending, Blake has gotten a promotion at his job, begun building a savings account, and has started looking into buying a home in the future. With Exodus Lending’s help, “I’ve been able to build a life.”
*We have changed the participant’s name because of confidentiality.