Authors: Alex Schwartz
Spring 2000
Fannie Mae Foundation

In Congress last year, major legislation to modernize the financial services industry was delayed by debate over reauthorizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Some bankers and members of Congress felt CRA places too much regulatory burden on banks, especially small ones, but community activists argued that CRA is necessary to ensure adequate investment and financial services in poor neighborhoods. In the end, CRA was modified to be less onerous and reauthorized as part of the banking bill. But Congress also signaled that it wants to know more about how CRA is working, ordering two separate studies to be conducted. This report provides insight about whether and how CRA has been effective, and how it is being affected by the changing market, by studying the lending of banks with and without CRA agreements and using case studies to examine outcomes of CRA agreements.

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