Community Reinvestment Act

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

CRA has enabled special interest groups to collect billions of dollars from banks under agreements that are kept secret. Even the citizens that these groups purport to represent have no way of knowing how the groups spend the money they get from banks. That s why I hope the Senate will approve a sunshine amendment that will add accountability to this process and bring these agreements into, the light of day.

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Senator Phil Gramm , Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

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.

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Howard Husock, New York Times.

Because the Community Reinvestment Act is really kind of a Cloward and Piven kind of scheme that really led to all of the things that, well, we're now having to bail banks out for.

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Glenn Beck, Fox News.

There is no evidence of significant discrimination in mortgage lending.

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George J. Bentson, a specialist in financial regulation at Emory University. New York Times.

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

Good Rules: Ten Stories Of Successful Regulation

Demos looks at ten laws and rules that we take for granted.

Community Reinvestment Act Policy Brief

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.