Many of you are probably familiar with cheque cashing/payday loan businesses. These businesses prey upon those with limited resources with the offer of ready cash. In particular, cheque cashing is used frequently by people experiencing homelessness who are refused bank accounts but given social assistance cheques. In this way, these businesses are making money of the very poorest in our communities. This businesses and their challenges are actually well documented in this wikipedia article.
This issue recently hit the news in London, Ontario when one such business was opened in the same building (The Market Tower) as the Ontario Works (social assistance) offices. To add insult to injury, this business is owned by the husband of our former mayor (who I supported), Tim Best. There was good coverage at the time of the opening, but with no real response from Mr. Best, the London Homeless Coalition decided to take action and write a letter to the London Free Press, Mr. Best, and Downtown London. You can see the Free Press coverage here.
I’m glad that the predatory/exploitative nature of these businesses is getting coverage. I am dismayed by the lack of interest Mr. Best seems to be taking in addressing our concerns. I should note that we sent a letter to Mr. Best, but the Free Press got to him before our letter (having received theirs by email), so his comment is quite simply that he hasn’t heard from us. Hopefully this will lead to continued dialogue of the issue in the community.