American Banker: Before modernizing CRA, consider its history

American Banker, June 19, 2018: Before modernizing CRA, consider its history


In this case, ahistorical arguments that dominate the CRA debate could potentially obliterate the law by disregarding its racial history and calling into question its intent to protect financial consumers — namely depositors — from discriminatory lending.

Efforts to dissociate CRA from its anti-discrimination and consumer protection contexts are Orwellian in nature. These efforts are largely premised on the idea that CRA is “colorblind,” devoid of a racial context and more about consumer access than it is about fairness.

For example, a recent Treasury report argued that “CRA is not a consumer protection law” and laid out narrow circumstances where the two regimes may relate, dependent on the discretion of regulators rather than the intent of Congress.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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