2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Megumi Tsutsui

Megumi Tsutsui

Name of Host Organization: Housing and Economic Rights Advocates
City, State: Oakland, California
Issue area: Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects, Consumer Rights
Sponsors: Anonymous

The Project

Megumi launched a legal project to eliminate barriers to credit by resolving abusive or bad debt and identifying obstacles to accessing affordable credit in low-income and Latino communities in the Bay Area.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
The 2008 recession exacerbated inequalities by completely wiping out wealth and tightening access to credit in low-income communities. With no assets and no access to credit, communities have become increasingly vulnerable to shocks and emergencies, creating a desperate situation where predatory lending practices have flourished and people are trapped in debt cycles. This project aimed to eliminate predatory and abusive lending practices and facilitate access to affordable small-dollar loans critical for providing financial stability and building wealth to escape poverty.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Megumi has:
• Provided advice and brief services to help 387 clients address a debt load totaling more than $2M and address errors in credit reporting
• Delivered 25 consumer workshops to 300 people to provide information and support on how to build one’s credit history to access both affordable loans and affordable housing
• Engaged in state and national advocacy to improve access to debt relief for students with loans who attended predatory schools
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Megumi plans to:
• Continue working with Housing and Economic Rights Advocates to build on her project
• Continue rolling out credit building workshops throughout the Bay Area and in immigrant communities to inform people about their debt and credit reporting rights and to give people the financial know-how to avoid bad debt and build credit to access affordable and safe credit
• Continue state and federal advocacy efforts to ensure that consumers with federal and private student loan debt who attended predatory schools get the relief they deserve

© 2017 Equal Justice Works - 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-4511