In response to the release Tuesday of final interagency regulations overhauling implementation of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for the first time in 28 years, National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) President and CEO Jesse Van Tol released the following statement:
“This update is both long overdue and essential. Marginalized communities still suffer from a variety of inequities in mortgage and small business lending, and from the enduring effects of historic financial discrimination. CRA is one of the most powerful and important tools the government has to ensure that banks meet the credit needs of all Americans and in all communities.
“The rules that give that law teeth were last updated when the web was a brand new thing. It is an enormous undertaking to address that quarter-century of stagnation. I applaud the agency’s leaders and line staffers for the years of hard, thoughtful work with activists, experts and industry leaders that produced today’s victory for economic justice.
“Today’s new rules expand CRA to reflect society’s broader understanding of the nature of economic injustice. Discrimination not only made non-White America poorer – it shortened lifespans, raised rates of serious disease and left communities more vulnerable to the mounting climate crisis. Banks will now be encouraged to invest in projects that address these aspects of American inequality as well.
“These are big, meaningful advances, and NCRC members will lead the fight to protect them from any cynical business interests that might attempt to undermine this progress. But we will also be poring over this vast document with a keen eye for areas where rulemakers may have fallen short – including on the explicit consideration of race in CRA implementation.
“Black, Native American and immigrant communities were intentionally and systematically starved of capital for decades. This financial racism was especially vicious toward Black America. Where Black people nonetheless managed to build thriving neighborhoods, the White establishment intentionally targeted and dismantled them – whether through mob violence as in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or through city and highway planning decisions as in Charlotte, North Carolina, and hundreds of other communities.
“CRA was always intended to end racist practices and reverse their impacts on families and communities. The law targets historical discrimination against people of color – while also anticipating and preventing future abuses. It is a deep disappointment that these new final rules still fail to make the racial wealth equity goals of the law explicit, even as the agencies appear to have made great strides in fixing a broken system that permitted blatantly discriminatory banks to receive “Outstanding” grades for atrocious performance. But we all know this isn’t the end of efforts to strengthen CRA and the financial system overall, or how to solve racial economic inequality. This is an important step forward, and we’ll need more in the years ahead to go beyond what’s achieved in this long-overdue update.”