In its “50 Heroes, 50 States” list, MONEY magazine selected AARP Utah Area Coordinator Art Sutherland to be Utah’s representative as a person doing creative and extraordinary work to help the finances of others in their state. Art was nominated by Coalition of Religious Communities Director Linda Hilton and AARP Utah Communications Director Laura Polacheck for his outstanding work on predatory lending issues in the state.
Art joined the efforts of the Coalition of Religious Communities to fight predatory lending in Utah after retiring as an aerospace engineer. He is at the center of many battles to rein in abusive payday lending practices, one of which is the practice of “rolling over” loans so that they become a debt trap. As MONEY Magazine explained, “Sutherland wanted to give back to his community. It didn’t take him long to find out that payday lenders were preying on low-income residents in the Salt Lake area. Sutherland worked with local city governments in the county to pass ordinances curbing payday lending. Thanks to Sutherland’s efforts, nearly every city in Salt Lake County limits the number of payday lenders and regulates where they can operate. He is spurring change at the state level too: Regularly testifying on predatory lending issues before the Utah State Legislature, he was instrumental in getting a new bill passed that requires lenders to offer a payback plan during which no interest accumulates if the loan is longer than 10 weeks.”
According to Art, “Low-income neighborhoods are saturated by payday outlets with lending rates in the 400% range and only two weeks to pay it off. We can’t put them out of business, but we can rein them in.”
AARP Utah congratulates Art for his recognition at the national level to give back to the community as a volunteer to make a significant difference in people’s lives.