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

…in an attempt to increase homeownership-particularly among minorities and the less affluent-an attack on underwriting standards has been undertaken by virtually every branch of the government since the early 1990s.

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Stan Leibowitz, National Review.

It is simply wrong-headed policy…[Federal and state banking regulations] require or aggressively nudge banks into subsidizing parts of the community [The proposals] would only aggravate the problem.

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Lawrence J. White, a professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business, New York Times.

The problem with the Community Reinvestment Act is not its goals but its vagueness and ambiguity that have led to a nightmare of documentation, paperwork and formalized process that diverts bankers' time and bank resources from being utilized to serve our communities… we need to build a system of supervision and enforcement that encourages creativity and substance in community reinvestment lending.

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Michael K. Guttau, National Mortgage News

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.

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Russell Roberts, Wall Street Journal.

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.