The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

The Lesson Is to Listen

On April 11th, 2016, posted in: Uncategorized by

heart with headphones“Even a murderer gets paroled.” She said it in a manner that was clothed in humility, yet with conviction. She smiled through every word. She wasn’t looking for a fight; after all, I had the upper hand. Her motivation was to convince me that giving her a loan would be the right thing to do. She did so with such eloquence and succinctness that I have never forgotten her. After all, the bad credit was from decades prior and she had turned her life around on all fronts — including now paying her bills on time. I gave her that loan and many others since. I benefited more than she did. While she got the loan, I got the life lesson: listen.  

Look, people screw up. And if not for a little compassion and consideration for our fellow man, this world would be even more screwed up than it already is. Biblical principle teaches us to bear each other’s burdens; forgive and forget; be kind and tender-hearted; comfort one another; be supportive and look after one another; and treat each other like you treat your friends. (Corresponding Bible verses are available upon request.)

I have voiced my concerns in this blog over the years for renters in our community who are victims of circumstances. Supply of rental units is down and demand is up because of the wave of home foreclosures from our recent “great recession” preventing people from ownership. Additionally, the same economic downturn adversely affected a lot of people’s credit at the same time mortgage regulations and lending practices tightened. Yes, the perfect storm, if you will, has made for skyrocketing rental costs outside of normal inflation.

Now we find out that landlords’ easy access to criminal background checks is resulting in shutting out many people from renting. If you can’t rent, and you can’t own, aren’t you effectively homeless? At best, a compassionate person is sharing their shelter. I’m not suggesting renting to those who are a risk to people and property, but I am suddenly reminded of those words of almost 30 years ago: “Mr. Adams, even a murderer gets paroled.”

Mr. Herrera was rejected for an apartment. He had a drunk driving conviction from 1980. Mr. Herrera is 70 years old and sleeps in his truck or on a family member’s couch because of his indiscretion of 36 years ago. Really? To fill in a few missing puzzle pieces: In the past 36 years, Mr. Herrera has not had any other convictions.

As in all things, the goal should be an effective balance struck for the benefit of both landlord and the prospective renter. Everybody’s got a story from their past — we need to listen. If we judged less and helped more, we’d be in a better place. Don’t you think?

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