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Updated: Jul 18, 2019


CONTACT: Adrienne Wheeler 504-561-7312;

June 28, 2019, New Orleans, LA – Louisiana Appleseed releases its findings on financial stability in low-income and communities of color in its report A Vicious Cycle: How Predatory Lending and Court Fines & Fees Continue to Trap Communities of Color in Debt. The nonprofit worked in coordination with Voice of the Experienced, Louisiana Language Access Coalition, and volunteer attorneys from Polsinelli to research, collect, and analyze data regarding barriers to financial stability in low-income and communities of color within Louisiana. Louisiana Appleseed and project partners focused on two areas contributing to the racial wealth gap: (1) the use of high-cost financial products by low-income communities of color in Louisiana; and (2) the harmful debt incurred by low-income communities of color due to court fines and fees. 

“Louisiana’s poverty rate is one of the highest in the country and is growing just as the racial inequality is worsening,” explains Louisiana Appleseed’s Program Director, Stephanie Beaugh. “This report highlights some of the greatest barriers to financial stability: predatory lending and debt caused by court fines and fees.”

A Vicious Cycle provides important information on the factors contributing to the racial inequities that prevent wealth generation in communities of color. Long-term consequences of resorting to high-cost financial products often perpetuates a cycle of crippling debt that compounds financial insecurity and entrenches families and communities in poverty. The report also highlights how low-income people of color are trapped by harmful debt through the imposition of court fines and fees. By shedding light on these issues, Louisiana Appleseed empowers families with the knowledge of how to avoid some debt traps.

Louisiana Appleseed is a statewide nonprofit based in New Orleans, Louisiana that focuses on policy-level solutions by recruiting attorneys to provide free services through a research-oriented approach to policy change. Louisiana Appleseed’s mission is rooted in three pillars dedicated to increasing Access to: Justice, Opportunity, and Education. The creation and distribution of this report is a component of Louisiana Appleseed’s Access to Opportunity Program that focuses on securing access to wealth building strategies in low-income and communities of color.

Support for this project was graciously provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Southern Partnership to Reduce Debt, which is developing strategies to lessen the impact of criminal and civil judicial fines and fees, as well as medical fees and high-cost consumer products, on communities of color. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private philanthropy that creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at


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