Tracey's Story

Houston—March 2020




Tracey was one of those 13,000 plus Texans who lost a car. After her husband passed away, she moved to Houston to be closer to family. She used her only asset, a fully paid off 2011 Toyota Camry as security on an $2,500 auto title loan, to cover expenses from moving and for a deposit on an apartment. After paying $4,000 on the loan over 10 months, she became very ill and missed a payment on the loan. Her car was repossessed. A widow living alone in Houston, she recalled, “It was the pandemic. I was stranded in my home without a way to buy food or anything.”

"After my husband passed away, I had to relocate to Houston, back home, to be safe and to be around family. When I got here, I didn’t have anything. I got a $2,500 title loan to pay an apartment deposit and get settled. I paid for 10 months, around $4,000, and then I got really sick and I had to miss work. It felt like a really bad flu. I was behind 46 days. They picked up my car. Now they are requiring me to pay the entire loan back, over $2,700...
These businesses make money off the backs of poor people. The government needs to invest in Black communities. Instead they enable and subsidize these businesses that drain money from our communities. That is not right and it is not fair to me, as a taxpayer. I don’t need a subsidy, but I need access to a way out of this mess."

While Tracey was dealing with a triple crisis — losing her job, losing her car after paying back nearly double what she had borrowed, and the hardship of the growing pandemic — high-cost payday and auto title loan businesses in Texas were rushing to take advantage of taxpayer subsidies that were supposed to bolster the financial stability of families and the economy.