Federal Agencies Announce Public Hearings on Community Reinvestment Act Regulations

Date Published: 06-18-2010

On June 18, 2010, the federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies announced a series of upcoming public hearings on modernizing the regulations that implement the Community Reinvestment Act ("CRA"). Interested parties are invited to provide testimony and written comments.

The agencies (the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision) will consider how to update the regulations to reflect changes in the financial services industry, changes in how banking services are delivered to consumers today, and current housing and community development needs. The agencies also want to ensure that the CRA remains effective for encouraging institutions to meet the credit needs of communities. While the agencies recognize public comments may discuss matters requiring statutory changes, the agencies' focus is on potential regulatory changes.

The agencies encourage the public to provide oral or written testimony on potential changes to the CRA regulations at four hearings to be held around the country. The planned hearing dates and cities are as follows: July 19, 2010, Arlington, Virginia; August 6, 2010, Atlanta, Georgia; August 12, 2010, Chicago, Illinois; and August 17, 2010, Los Angeles, California.

Anyone wishing to submit testimony or attend the hearings must register five business days in advance on the website of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council at http://www.ffiec.gov/cra/hearings.htm. Hearing details are available on that site and in the attached hearings notice, which will be published in the Federal Register. The agencies also strongly encourage individuals interested in testifying to provide their written testimony in advance. Presentation time and meeting space are limited and early registration is recommended.

In addition to offering an opportunity for testimony at the hearings, the agencies are encouraging any individual to provide written comments on the CRA regulations to any of the agencies through August 31, 2010. While the agencies encourage public comments on any CRA topic, they are particularly interested in receiving comments on the topics and questions listed in the notice excerpted in the attached document.

Separately, the agencies announced that they are proposing a change to the CRA rules to encourage depository institutions to support the Neighborhood Stabilization Program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Comments on the proposed rule are due thirty days after its publication in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly.


Agencies Propose to Expand Scope of Community Reinvestment Act Regulations to Encourage Depository Institution Support for HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program Activities

The federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies today announced a proposed change to the Community Reinvestment Act ("CRA") regulations to support stabilization of communities affected by high foreclosure levels. The proposed change specifically would encourage depository institutions to support the Neighborhood Stabilization Program ("NSP") administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD").

Under the NSP, HUD has provided funds to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations for the purchase and redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed properties. The agencies' proposal would encourage depository institutions to make loans and investments and provide services to support NSP activities in areas with HUD-approved plans.

The proposal would supplement existing CRA consideration for community development activities, including neighborhood stabilization activities. For example, for NSP areas identified in HUD-approved plans, the agencies would provide CRA consideration for activities that benefit individuals with incomes of up to120 percent of the area median and geographies with median incomes of up to120 percent of the area median. NSP-eligible activities would receive favorable consideration under the new rule only if conducted within two years after the date when NSP program funds are required to be spent.

Allowing banking institutions to receive CRA consideration for NSP-eligible activities in additional NSP-targeted areas creates an opportunity to leverage government funding targeted to areas with high foreclosure and vacancy rates and also serves the purposes of the CRA.

The proposed rule is attached. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted no later than 30 days from the date of its publication in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly.

Separately, the agencies also announced today they will hold four hearings to consider public comment on all aspects of the CRA regulations during the summer of 2010.

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