Community Reinvestment Act
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has been critical to the expansion of responsible credit for low- and moderate-income borrowers since its passage in 1977. Designed to address low levels of lending activity in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, it has helped spur a growing range of successful affordable loan programs that reduce credit access barriers. CRA expands the overall efficiency of the banking system by incentivizing banks to tap profit opportunities in underserved markets.
The Community Reinvestment Act ensures that banks make resources available to low-income or otherwise disadvantaged communities by offering “equal access to lending, investment and services to all those in an institution's geographic assessment area-at least three to five miles from each branch. In the case of large banks with many branches, the geographic area may encompass an entire county or even a state.” This policy was created as a direct response to “redlining”, a discriminatory practice used by bankers to avoid making loans to people of color or lower-income areas.
Cry Wolf Quotes
Any review of the history of the affordable mortgage movement in America demonstrates the power that CRA had in helping to shred mortgage underwriting standards throughout the industry and exposing us to the kind of market meltdown we've experienced. “If form follows, soon banks and other financial institutions operating under CRA will be cudgeled into lending to small businesses based on race and gender, which will be the opening of a new round of lower lending standards in the very risky small-business sector. The effort to save and extend CRA in the face of its role in the mortgage market's massive meltdown is testament to the unique power of this legislation to nourish an entire industry of nonprofits that, like Acorn, have been reliable supporters of politicians such as Barney Frank, Maxine Waters and a former community organizer and associate of Acorn by the name of Barack Obama.
One cannot say with any certainty whether the more important cause of the current housing crisis was affordable-housing mandates or the actions of investment banks and ratings agencies. There can be no doubt, however, that both contributed. With that in mind, the best way to make sure that we don’t repeat our mistakes is to examine — and change — both… If the Community Reinvestment Act must stay in force, then regulators should take loan performance, not just the number of loans made, into account. We have seen the dangers of too much money chasing risky borrowers.
The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and "redlining" because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites. The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to "meet the credit needs" of "low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods." Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans.
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) did the same thing with traditional banks. It encouraged banks to serve two masters -- their bottom line and the so-called common good… By pressuring banks to serve poor borrowers and poor regions of the country, politicians could push for increases in home ownership and urban development without having to commit budgetary dollars. Another political free lunch.
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Shuts Down Critics of the Community Reinvestment Act
The Community Reinvestment Act had nothing to do with the subprime crisis.
Community Reinvestment Act Did Not Fuel the Subprime Crisis
The Community Reinvestment Act did not create an overabundance of risky loans.
Backgrounders & Briefs
Demos looks at ten laws and rules that we take for granted.
By Philip Ashton, UIC
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has been critical to the expansion of responsible credit for low- and moderate-income borrowers since its passage in 1977.