What’s next in Community Reinvestment Act reform?

In 2018, NCRC and hundreds of its members led a nationwide campaign called #TreasureCRA, urging the administration and the federal bank agencies to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). We still have big questions about the changes needed to keep pace with technology and the transforming financial industry. We will have a lively discussion among banks, community groups and regulatory officials on what is the fate of assessment areas and branches on CRA exams. What activities and financing should count on CRA exams and to which demographic groups? How can grading become more rigorous? How can we elevate community group input on exams and merger applications?

Josh Silver, Senior Advisor, NCRC, Washington, DC

Byna Elliott, Chief Corporate Community & Economic Development Officer, Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati, OH
David Lipsetz, Chief Executive Officer, Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC
Jaime Weisberg, Senior Campaign Analyst, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, New York, NY
Barry Wides, Deputy Comptroller for Community Affairs, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Washington, DC

By Marsha Jean-Baptiste

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is approaching the docket for reform, and policy and banking panelists offered their perspectives on the direction they hope the reform will go, during a session at the 2019 Just Economy Conference.

Jaime Weisberg recommended that when assessing a bank’s lending practices, the question shouldn’t be whether they are lending to a specific community but instead should focus on the quality of the lending in that community.

Byna Elliot wants a more flexible CRA. She suggested that community bank agreements should not be required, but that clear CRA language will need to make sure banks are responsive to the communities that they serve. To hold banks accountable, it should be through community engagement and community commenting on how a bank can improve in working for their area.

A suggestion that was unanimous among panelists was the importance of data collecting. More accuracy when looking at less populated, underserved areas is required. Most of CRA efforts have been focused on urban communities when more rural communities need just as much attention.  

The common end goal for CRA reform is to help financially underserved communities in the greatest capacity.

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