With the final passage of landmark and pro-consumer federal financial regulatory reform, expanding community investment obligations to the entire financial sector represents the next major task necessary to a strong economic recovery. Now that a strong consumer protection agency is on the way to keep bad products out of the marketplace, it is critical to ensure that good products are available in every community – including low-wealth communities and communities of color. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is critical to ensuring that good products are available in every community, but it needs to be modernized to make sure that it keeps pace with the rapidly-changing financial industry.
Why modernize CRA? Why now?
Fewer major bank mergers means that there are fewer opportunities for public debate on CRA performance, and an increasingly diversified financial industry means that too many financial institutions escape CRA obligations all together.
What would a modernized CRA look like?
We need a CRA that applies to not just banks, but also to the mortgage companies, insurance companies, and securities firms that conduct an increasingly large portion of their business in our communities. We also need to make sure that there are real incentives to keep financial institutions active in underserved communities, and make sure there are real penalties for those companies that fail to meet the financial needs of low-wealth people and communities within their footprint. Finally, we must ensure that financial institutions are sufficiently serving communities of color as well as low-wealth communities.
How can Chicago-region organizations get involved?
In July and August, there will be three opportunities to share your thoughts on how financial institutions can best serve low-wealth communities and communities of color.
1. Attend the upcoming workshop entitled “How To Prepare To Testify for A Stronger Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) At the Upcoming Federal Reserve Hearing.” This workshop is designed to facilitate a discussion with community organizations on the benefits of CRA, and help prepare written comments, oral testimony, or answer questions on why CRA modernization is necessary to their organization’s community investment mission. Tuesday, July 27, 2010 from 10am to 12pm PNC Bank 8700 S. Cottage Grove Chicago, Illinois To register, contact Otis Monroe at omonroe@themonroefoundation.
2. Participate in the “Chicago Region CRA Modernization Conference Call.” Hosted by Woodstock Institute, participants will learn why CRA should be modernized and what is being proposed. The call will also include information on how to register to attend the Federal Reserve hearings on CRA.
Tuesday August 3, 2010 from 10am to 11pm
Dial-in Number: 1 (605) 715-4920
Access Code: 995524#
To register for the call, contact Beverly Berryhill at 312-368-0310 or email@example.com.
3. Attend the “Public Hearing on CRA Modernization” hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The hearing will include testimony from policymakers, community organizations, and financial services leaders. Attendees not presenting oral testimony will have the opportunity to ask questions during several open mic sessions.
Click here to register to attend the public hearing. Registration must be processed by August 5, 2010.