A landmark civil rights law that established a pathway to stability, wealth-building  for communities of color, but still needs improvements

An image of the sun rising over a California neighborhood. Today, we celebrate 46 years of the enactment of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a pivotal piece of legislation enacted to address banking marginalization and discriminatory lending practices. Considered a cornerstone civil rights law, the CRA has played a vital role in promoting economic revitalization, spurring community development and combating systemic disinvestment in low-to-moderate-income (LMI) communities and neighborhoods of color. It cannot be overstated how critically important the CRA has been in these efforts.

Without the CRA, financial institutions would have no obligation to meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate. In a world without the CRA,  there would be reduced access to credit, continued redlining and a host of other negative consequences for neighborhoods of color and LMI communities.

Yet, despite the existence of the CRA, these communities still experience credit discrimination and modern-day redlining. Having the CRA alone isn’t enough. To address modern-day challenges, we need a reformed and strengthened CRA.  

That’s why last year we made it a priority to organize our nearly 400 members to send in comment letters to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) in response to their joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for updating requirements under the  CRA. These letters asked regulators to implement changes that meaningfully and explicitly address race and make it so the CRA fully lives up to its promise of being the nation’s anti-redlining law.

Now, as we wait for federal regulators’ final ruling to update CRA requirements, we reflect on the potential and promise the CRA holds.

If strengthened and enforced, the CRA has the potential to radically transform the lives of millions and create an equitable society. It shouldn’t take another four and a half decades to get there. We have a rare opportunity in front of us right now to improve the CRA.

After 46 years, the CRA remains a vital tool in combating redlining. While we celebrate its history and significance, we also advocate for its continued evolution to create a truly equitable society.