Written By: Ehsan Jahandarpour

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA, P.L. 95-128, 91 Stat. 1147, title VIII of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977, et seq.) is a United States federal law designed to encourage commercial banks and savings associations to help meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Congress passed the Act in 1977 to reduce discriminatory credit practices against low-income neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining.CRA is designed as a simple test for how financial institutions are meeting obligations to serve the convenience and needs of the local market where they are located. This principle is one that federal law governing deposit insurance, bank charters, and bank mergers had embodied long before the enactment of CRA.“The Community Reinvestment Act: Thirty Years of Accomplishments, but Challenges Remain”, February 13, 2008 This hearing before the full House Committee on Financial Services examined the impact of CRA on the provision of loans, investments and services to under-served communities. In addition to exploring CRA’s success, the hearing hoped to examine challenges that prevent the law from being more effective for the future. | Printed Hearing: 110-90(PDF) The Act instructs the appropriate federal financial supervisory agencies to encourage regulated financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered, consistent with safe and sound operation (Section 802.) To enforce the statute, federal regulatory agencies examine banking institutions for CRA compliance, and take this information into consideration when approving applications for new bank branches or for mergers or acquisitions (Section 804.)