As Woodstock President Dory Rand noted, there is still much left to be done to ensure a fair and equitable financial system, even though the Dodd-Frank Act is now law. One major step is to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) so that all financial institutions are serving the entirety of communities in which they do business. The Chicago area has an opportunity to influence this process on August 12, when the Federal Reserve will be holding a hearing to consider CRA modernization. It is critical for regulators to hear from a large variety of organizations about why we must ensure that good products are available in every community – including low-wealth communities and communities of color.
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. Both panelists and speakers at the open mic must register in advance. If you are registering to testify and have not received a confirmation, contact:
- Joseph A. Firschein, Community Affairs Officer, Joseph.A.Firschein@frb.gov, (202) 736-5531;
- Jamie Goodson, Attorney, Jamie.Z.Goodson@frb.gov, (202) 452-3667;
- Catherine M. J. Gates, Senior Project Manager, Cathy.Gates@frb.gov, (202) 452-2099.
Woodstock staff is helping to prepare Chicago-region organizations to testify at the upcoming hearing. At a recent workshop organized by the Community Reinvestment Organizing Project of the Monroe Foundation, Woodstock staff discussed topics like expanding CRA assessment areas; expanding CRA obligations to institutions like credit unions, mortgage brokers, and insurance companies; improving small business data disclosure; and preventing grade inflation in CRA ratings.
Over 20 representatives from churches, community-based organizations, and housing counselors were energized to advocate for a stronger CRA. They shared stories of how disinvestment was hurting their communities and lamented the dwindling number of community banks that invested in their neighborhoods in the past. Some suggested further steps beyond testimony at the hearing, such as advocacy at bank stockholder meetings and direct action campaigns.
It was clear at the training that disinvestment and lack of safe and sustainable credit are still pressing concerns for Chicago communities. The upcoming hearing on August 12 will provide a forum for those affected by disinvestment to make their concerns heard to key policymakers. If you would like more information about CRA modernization or how to testify, Woodstock Institute will be holding a conference call on Tuesday, August 3. Please click here for more information and to register.