CommonWealth Magazine: It’s no time to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act

CommonWealth Magazine, May 2, 2020: It’s no time to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act

We purchased homes in Mattapan, Brockton and Hyde Park. We were able to afford these homes because of a great program called ONE Mortgage available through local lenders and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership. We benefited from a lower down payment requirement, no private mortgage insurance, and an affordable, below-market interest rate.

But what was not immediately known to us is how much we owe our homeownership success to the Community Reinvestment Act. Passed by Congress in 1977, CRA has resulted in billions of dollars in responsible lending to formerly redlined communities. Thanks to enforcement from regulators and grassroots enforcement from community organizations, CRA is a success story.

Now, CRA is threatened by the Trump administration. They can’t get rid of the law, but they are hellbent on gutting the regulations that are used to enforce it. Joseph Otting, the chief federal banking regulator, was the CEO of a major West Coast bank when it was sanctioned due to its poor CRA rating.

Weakening CRA is anti-family and anti-neighborhood, especially now in the wake of COVID-19. We have committed ourselves to paying it forward and assisting other families who hope to do what we did and buy a home in a challenging Greater Boston housing market. First-time and first-generation homebuyers will be crucial to our economic recovery post-COVID-19. They need all the help they can muster. Affordable mortgage lending from banks is a critical need now and in the future. The only way to ensure that is to ensure a strong, dynamic and responsive Community Reinvestment Act.

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