St. Louis American: Bank merger calls for community benefits agreement

St. Louis American, November 9, 2018: Bank merger calls for community benefits agreement 

The St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) is a coalition of nonprofit and community organizations working to hold banks accountable to the CRA and increase investment in low-income communities and communities of color. With threats of weakening the CRA now, we are calling for a strong CRA and for banks to specify clearly how they are meeting their obligations to serve the whole community.

Whether it is reinvesting in distressed neighborhoods or encouraging lenders to offer products that meet low and moderate income borrowers’ needs, the CRA plays an important role in increasing homeownership rates, giving small businesses access to needed capital, revitalizing neighborhoods, encouraging lenders to hire staff that reflects the community, supporting financial education and more. Without the CRA, a report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) estimates that Missouri’s first congressional district could lose up $300 million in mortgage and small business lending.

The city and the region cannot afford to lose any more lending, services, and investments in our communities. We cannot lose one of the strongest tools to ensure that banks are serving our community fairly and equitably. We need a strong CRA and clear commitments to the community from the region’s leading financial institutions.

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