San Francisco Chronicle: Save the Community Reinvestment Act: a path to the American dream

San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 2020: Save the Community Reinvestment Act: A Path to the American Dream

The CRA is one of our nation’s most important civil rights laws, created to address geographical, income-based and/or racial discrimination in investments and services offered by banks. Since its passage in 1977, the CRA has spurred more than $6 trillion of investments in low- and moderate-income communities, often in partnership with Community Development Financial Institutions like Opportunity Fund. Right here in California, Opportunity Fund has deployed nearly $500 million in small business loans, with an average size of about $40,000, by leveraging $84 million in investments from banks motivated by the CRA.

However, federal regulators have proposed changes to the law meant to modernize it. Unfortunately, these proposed changes would jeopardize and weaken it instead. When the proposed changes were first announced, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition estimated they could result in the loss of up to $16 billion in small business lending to low- and moderate-income areas over five years.

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