Authors: Alex Schwartz
Fannie Mae Foundation

Banks and other depository institutions have signed more than 300 community reinvestment agreements valued at $350 billion in the two decades since the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). This article examines the effectiveness of negotiating CRA agreements in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey. After describing the agreements and the procedures by which they are enforced, the article looks at their impact and discusses several factors that could limit implementation of CRA agreements in the future. The findings suggest that CRA agreements are more effective in some areas than others. They seem most consistently successful in meeting their goals for mortgages, investments in low-income housing tax credits, grant giving to community-based organizations, and in opening (and keeping open) inner-city bank branches. The future of CRA agreements is clouded by several factors, most notably the restructuring and consolidation of the financial service sector.

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