If you are newer to the Opportunity Fund family, CRA might not mean anything to you but it is integral to our work. CRA, which stands for the Community Reinvestment Act (1977), is a landmark federal law that requires federally regulated depository institutions (aka national banks) to meet credit needs in all communities where they operate, including low-income communities. One way banks comply with the regulation is by investing in microfinance institutions like Opportunity Fund that specialize in extending credit to low-income borrowers. Those investments and donations are critical for us to serve our clients. To quote our CEO Eric Weaver: “There is no question that we would not have been able to accomplish what we have without a strong, and strongly enforced, Community Reinvestment Act.”
Right now, this law is poised for its second major reform after 35 years of existence. It is time. Given the seismic shifts in the way banks do business (mobile banking, branchless banks etc.) CRA desperately needs to catch up. Along with many partners across the country, Opportunity Fund is pushing for some important (but fairly technical) changes to how CRA is interpreted and enforced. These changes will ensure that banks meet the credit needs of all borrowers in the community, regardless of which side of the tracks those people happen to be from.