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Alliance backs alternative to payday lending

johnson-soaries-500Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies, and Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, N.J. have formed an alliance to reshape the national financial lending climate.

The collaboration is designed to help Americans, particularly minorities, pay down consumer debt, increase household savings, and overcome a cycle of short term and emergency borrowing caused by the "excessive use of payday lending."

Nearly twelve million Americans turn to payday loans annually when faced with financial challenges in order to cover emergency expenses and meet cash shortfalls. Forty-one percent of borrowers have needed a cash infusion to pay off a payday loan and many ultimately turn to the same options they could have used instead of payday loans to finally pay off the loan.

As a result and because of current high interest lending rates, many borrowers are unable to pay back loans in a timely manner and find themselves in a cycle of borrowing and debt, according to Payday Lending in America: How Borrowers Choose and Repay Payday Loans, published in February 2013.

Johnson announced earlier this year his financial awareness campaign to "end payday lending as we know it today." He has designated Dr. Soaries and his dfree® program as the financial literacy arm to "change the lending climate and help minority consumers overcome recurring debt and achieve financial stability."

According to a release about the new alliance, the game plan includes "encouraging lending institutions to create lower interest borrowing solutions and making consumers more aware of the financial options available to them prior to going into debt." The collaboration is expected to yield tools and resources consumers need to make better and more informed financial decisions.

Founded by Dr. Soaries in 2005, dfree® (www.mydfree.org) creates solutions for individuals and organizations pursuing financial freedom and economic self-sufficiency. The dfree® strategy begins with the elimination of debt and addresses the root causes of chronic indebtedness.

Organizers say the "Debt, Delinquency and Deficit Free" program – dfree® – has reached thousands of consumers nationwide. It challenges to take control of their finances by setting debt reduction goals, paying off debt, increasing awareness and changing behavior as it relates to money and borrowing.

Dr. Soaries, said Johnson, "will bring about a significant change and provide valuable information on improving the lives of millions of working class Americans, particularly minority Americans."

Thrilled to be teamed with Johnson in what he called "our mission," Dr. Soaries said, Providing individuals and families with the tools to address financial needs on a consistent basis, helps them to better manage their finances and achieve financial freedom."

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