Aspen Institute Staff       Published 8/11/2022         Community Strategies Group

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is one of the most significant policy efforts to bring private capital and credit to underserved communities. It was written in response to generations of underinvestment and redlining in communities of color by banks and government entities like the Federal Housing Administration (who actually formalized redlining). Over the years, CRA has led to important shifts in lending in many communities across the country. However, many areas for improvement remain, especially for rural regions who have been mostly left out of the benefits.

After many years of advocacy, long-awaited rule changes for CRA have finally come, and CSG is excited to be part of commenting on what is needed to better serve rural communities as part of the Reimagining Rural Assistance Network (RRAN). As you may remember from our efforts in support of the Rural Partnership Program and EDA reauthorization, RRAN is a diverse coalition of rural development advocates, experts, and practitioners that first came together in early 2021 in support of the large federal funding initiatives reaching the rural communities that need the most investment.

As we noted in the CRA comment letter, “An updated CRA offers the opportunity to expand access to capital, revitalize communities that have experienced significant economic and other shocks, and improve the consistency of investment necessary for rural America to be equitable and resilient. CRA should build upon its established platform for improving communities’ access to credit and maintain the ethos, intent, and effectiveness of this vital institution.”