SAN FRANCISCO & WASHINGTON, May 21, 2020 – The National Community Reinstatement Coalition (NCRC), the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) and legal oversight group Democracy Forward announced today they intend to sue the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for unlawfully gutting the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Yesterday, the OCC announced a new set of CRA rules that will allow banks to lend less to lower-income communities.
“The OCC went against the majority of public comments and introduced new, gaping loopholes into the rules that will allow banks to reduce their focus on lower-income borrowers and communities, the very communities the law was intended to protect when it was passed in 1977,” said Jesse Van Tol, CEO of NCRC. “It’s an awkward, disjointed and rushed move by a single agency that couldn’t get agreement from the two other agencies that regulate banks. It’s an administrative fiasco. We’ll see you in court.”
“The country’s largest regulator of big banks, Comptroller Joseph Otting, made it his mission to dismantle this important civil rights law, issuing a final rule just 5 weeks after receiving over 7,000 public comments. By moving forward despite an overwhelming majority of public commenters disagreeing with the framework put forth in the final rule, it is clear that the outcome was predetermined to fix the game in favor of the big banks to the detriment of communities and the spirit and intent of the law,” said Paulina Gonzelez-Brito, Executive Director, California Reinvestment Coalition. “We will not be deterred by those seeking to rig the system in favor of Wall Street, we’ll see you in court.”
“The Trump Administration has abandoned low- and moderate-income communities amidst a once-in-a-generation public health crisis and illegally erected a significant roadblock to their financial recovery,” said Anne Harkavy, Executive Director at Democracy Forward. “Every step of the way to gutting the Community Reinvestment Act, the administration has denied the public a fair and transparent process. Trump’s OCC tried to silence community groups that voiced opposition and is still withholding the analysis it used to justify weakening anti-redlining protections. We have fought this shady rule-making process from the start, and the fight will continue.”
The OCC has also fractured the interagency consensus around CRA enforcement, acting without the other two agencies that regulate banks and set rules for CRA compliance, the FDIC and Federal Reserve Board. This solo move by the OCC broke what should be a uniform system for all lenders. Instead, the OCC pressed ahead to force an even more complex and confusing experiment on low- and moderate-income families and communities of color in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and at a time when the racial wealth gap has been widening.
NCRC, CRC and Democracy Forward filed another lawsuit in April to force the OCC to reveal records and analysis regulators used to come up with the new rules.
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition and its grassroots member organizations create opportunities for people to build wealth. We work with community leaders, policymakers and financial institutions to champion fairness and end discrimination in lending, housing and business.
The California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) is the largest statewide community reinvestment coalition in the country, with over 300 member organizations across California that provide services to tens of thousands of low- income residents. CRC members include affordable housing developers, community development financial institutions, housing counseling agencies, small business technical assistance providers, legal services agencies, and community-based organizations.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.