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Call to Action

Submit Comments to Help Preserve & Strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was passed in 1977 to end a type of discrimination known as redlining, which caused systemic disinvestment in lower-income and minority neighborhoods

The CRA is one of the most important laws we have to hold banks accountable to local communities where they have a presence. It requires them to lend and provide services equitably, and to support community development.  The CRA has been particularly impactful in helping
to build and preserve affordable housing in our nation’s Latino communities.

On Dec 12th, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) to amend the CRA. The proposed changes will weaken this key civil rights law that combats lending
discrimination by banks and promotes investments in low- and moderate-income communities.

We are asking individuals and organizations to submit comments to the OCC urging them to preserve and strengthen, not weaken, the CRA.

Deadline to submit comments has been extended to April 8, 2020!

 

The OCC needs to hear from you. Use these samples as a starting point to customize your letter, then follow our instructions on how to submit your comments. It is critical that we have a strong show of opposition to this NPR. The more comments submitted — the louder our voice is in opposition.

ORGANIZATION COMMENT LETTER

(DATE)
To: OCC, Ms. Vonda J. Eanes
Director for CRA and Fair Lending Policy Compliance
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
400 7th Street SW, Washington, DC 20219

Re: Docket ID OCC-2018-0008

Dear Ms. Eanes:

(Organization name) opposes the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) released by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on December 12th regarding the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

(INSERT Background information about your organization and the LMI populations you serve)

(INSERT information about the kinds of programs that CRA-motivated grants or loans from banks allow your organization to provide to LMI populations)

The CRA was a landmark response to redlining, a persistent pattern of discrimination in bank lending that particularly harmed communities of color. Unfortunately, these practices continue today. In an economy that is characterized by enormous disparities in wealth that correlate strongly to race, ethnicity and geography, the CRA should be modernized in ways that places greater focus on the needs and opportunities of low- and moderate-income (LMI) people, and communities that face persistent poverty.  The approach detailed in the NPR will do the opposite by lowering the bar for banks to meet their community reinvestment requirements.  This NPR is fatally flawed because the content, if implemented in a final rule, will undermine the original intent of CRA, and because the manner in which the OCC has gone about the rulemaking process has undermined the credibility of the agency on the issue of CRA modernization.

The following are some of our biggest concerns with the NPR’s content:

  • The NPR proposes to reduce all CRA investments to a dollar value and to calculate a single ratio of the assigned dollar value of CRA investments divided by retail domestic deposits. By reducing all investments to a dollar value, it will make it harder to measure the quality or impact of CRA investments and, as a result, whether banks are equitably serving all communities.   Relying heavily on a single ratio for the rating also creates an opportunity and incentive for banks to “game the system” by making the easiest, lowest cost investments that technically qualify, regardless of their impact.
  • The NPR proposes to allow banks to fail almost half of their assessment areas and still receive a high rating based on the bank’s overall “one ratio” score. Banks typically have the most difficulty meeting their community reinvestment requirements in small urban and rural areas.  If banks can still achieve a high rating without meeting the credit needs in these harder to serve communities, we are concerned that small urban and rural communities will see significantly less CRA investment.
  • The NPR dramatically expands the range of what activities are eligible for CRA credit, including investments that do not serve LMI people, including renovations to certain professional football stadiums. The result will be to reduce the focus on investments that serve LMI populations and neighborhoods.
  • The NPR proposes to give “double credit” to banks to incentive certain kinds of investments over others. This will allow banks to significantly reduce the real dollar amounts actually invested in LMI communities while receiving the same amount of credit for the purposes of their exam.
  • We are also concerned that the NPR limits the extent to which public comments will contribute to CRA rating process.

The following are some of factors in the rule making process that have undermined the OCC’s credibility with respect to CRA modernization.

  • The OCC has disregarded public comments received in response to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPR) that was released in the fall of 2018. An overwhelming majority of respondents to the ANPR, including many from the banking industry, expressed two key concerns: first, that CRA modernization should focus on the credit needs of LMI communities; and second, that creating a “one ratio” approach to ratings was flawed.  The NPR recently published by the OCC reduces focus on LMI people and communities and relies heavily on a “one ratio” approach.
  • It is concerning that the OCC issued a NPR without the concurrence of the Federal Reserve. If the NPR becomes a final rule, creating two different CRA rating systems, it will result in confusion and inconsistency between banks overseen by the Federal Reserve versus the OCC – ultimately undermining the CRA.
  • Finally, we are concerned that the Comptroller of the Currency, Mr. Joseph Otting, has publicly stated his intent to limit public input in the CRA rating process and, in testimony before the US Congress, has expressed skepticism about whether there is discrimination in bank lending.  Prior to becoming Comptroller of the Currency, Mr. Otting served as CEO of OneWest Bank, which had a poor community reinvestment and fair lending track record.

Based on all of these concerns, we call on the OCC to withdraw this fatally flawed NPR and examine proposals detailed by Governor Brainard of the Federal Reserve as a basis for further rulemaking.

Respectfully submitted,

 

HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS

  1. Use your favorite text editor and this sample letter to personalize your comment.
  2. CLICK HERE  to go to the government’s comment submission form.
  3. Copy/paste your text into the comment box or if you exceed the word limit you can attach your letter as a .docx, .jpeg or .pdf.
  4. Add your contact information, check the box to acknowledge your comment will be made public, and click the “submit comment” button.
  5. You’ll be directed to a confirmation page.  Your comment will appear online within a few business days.
  6. After submitting your comment online, please also send your comment by email to NALCAB at clanderos@nalcab.org to help us keep track of submissions.

INDIVIDUAL COMMENT LETTER

(DATE)
To: OCC, Ms. Vonda J. Eanes
Director for CRA and Fair Lending Policy Compliance
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
400 7th Street SW, Washington, DC 20219

Re: Docket ID OCC-2018-0008

Dear Ms. Eanes:

I am writing to oppose the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) released by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on December 12th regarding the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

(INSERT your address or information about where you live and anything about how you have benefited from the CRA or why you support the CRA)

The CRA was originally intended to respond to redlining, a persistent pattern of discrimination in bank lending that particularly harmed communities of color. Unfortunately, these practices continue today.  The CRA should focus on the needs and opportunities of low- and moderate-income people, and on communities that face persistent poverty.  The proposed rule published by the OCC in December will do the opposite and will lower the bar for banks to meet their community reinvestment requirements.

The following are my biggest concerns with the proposed rule:

  • It will reduce investment in poor communities that need it most.
  • Small urban and rural communities will see significantly less CRA investment under the rule.
  • This rule allows banks to get CRA credit when they invest in projects that are clearly not intended to benefit poor people, such as sports stadium renovations.
  • The rule limits the voice of the public in the CRA exam process.

The OCC should withdraw this fatally flawed proposal.

Respectfully,

HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS

  1. Use your favorite text editor and this sample letter to personalize your comment.
  2. CLICK HERE  to go to the government’s comment submission form.
  3. Copy/paste your text into the comment box or if you exceed the word limit you can attach your letter as a .docx, .jpeg or .pdf.
  4. Add your contact information, check the box to acknowledge your comment will be made public, and click the “submit comment” button.
  5. You’ll be directed to a confirmation page.  Your comment will appear online within a few business days.
  6. After submitting your comment online, please also send your comment by email to NALCAB at clanderos@nalcab.org to help us keep track of submissions.

CRA Resources: Statements, News Articles, Links

NALCAB Written Testimony: The Community Reinvestment Act: Reviewing Who Wins and Who Loses with Comptroller Otting’s Proposal
Presented to the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions (January 14, 2020)
CLICK HERE for the Webcast of this hearing

Trump Administration Financial Regulator Seeks to Lower the Bar for Banks to Meet Community Reinvestment Requirements
NALCAB’s statement on proposed changes to CRA (December 18, 2019)

Protecting the Community Reinvestment Act Is an Investment in Economic Justice – By Jamie Weisberg, Shelterforce (December 18, 2019)

Redlining Would Be Relegalized by CRA Reform ProposalBy Frank Woodruff, Shelterforce (January 9, 2020)

Changing Rules to Help Bankers and Hurt Poor Neighborhoods By New York Times Editorial Board (January 10, 2020)

Protect and Strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act and ANHD’s Top Priorities for CRA Reform
From Association for Neighborhood Housing & Development (ANHD)