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The High Cost of Poverty

Advocates for the poor say one reason for the persistence of poverty is that low-income people often pay more for basic goods and services than middle-class people do, making the poor feel they're running in place.

In this series Minnesota Public Radio examines the high cost of poverty. The reports were broadcast on MPR news and information stations January 13 - 17, 1997.

PHOTO: A Cash America shop in suburban Atlanta. Cash America reflects a trend in pawnbroking: the development of clean, retail-shop-like chains.

Fringe Banking
Audio Report (6:56) (RealAudio 14.4)
Report Transcript

A growing number of low-income Americans are relying on 'fringe banks' in place of traditional banking services. Reporter John Biewen traveled to Georgia, where people who get loans from pawnshops pay an annual interest rate of 300-percent. Reporter: John Biewen

Minnesota Pawn
Audio Report (5:28) (RealAudio 14.4)
Report Transcript

Some of the Minnesota's pawnshops are using a loophole in the state law to charge more than 200-percent. Reporter: John Biewen

Rent to Own
Audio Report (7:14) (RealAudio 14.4)
Report Transcript
Rent-to-own stores tend to locate in poor neighborhoods, and many of their customers have low incomes or damaged credit. Courts in Minnesota and Wisconsin say the nation's largest rent-to-own chain violated interest rate limits. Reporter: John Biewen

Low Income Housing
Audio Report (8:16) (RealAudio 14.4)
Report Transcript
Many low-income renters are caught in a purgatory of shoddy housing, inflated prices and bad credit records that keeps them on a constant search for a new place to settle. Reporter: Stephen Smith