The Pit of Despair was set up at an action in the Birmingham neighborhood of Ensley, which is checkered with payday loan storefronts. City councilwoman Lashunda Scales, Joe Dean of the Baptist Church of the Covenant, and Mary Jones of the Greater Birmingham Ministries joined Alabama Arise and Alabama Appleseed in hoisting their neighbors out of, jumping over, and falling into the visual debt trap.
Since a public database began collecting payday lending’s impact on Alabama in mid-August, $349 million has been taken out over the course of 1. 13 million loans across the state. Most of these loans have gone to borrowers trying to crawl out from under the previous payday loan, trapping them in a cycle of debt.