Final Rule for Community Reinvestment Act Features Landmark Provisions to Increase Access to Capital and Credit for Indian Country

Published on May 21, 2020


WASHINGTON, D.C. | Yesterday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released the much-anticipated Final Rule modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a regulatory framework that features landmark provisions designed to incentivize increased access to capital and credit for tribal governments, communities, and citizens.

Leading up to the release of the Final Rule, NCAI, the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA), and our partners had closely engaged the OCC and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for more than two years about how best to modernize the CRA so that it serves the unique challenges and needs of Indian Country. The CRA Final Rule – which the OCC explains “makes capital more accessible in Indian Country and rural and distressed areas” – addresses several major priorities outlined in NCAI’s April 2020 comments on the OCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, notably:

·         specific measures aimed at spurring investments in tribal public safety, housing, education, healthcare, and communications infrastructure, as well as other community and economic development projects on tribal lands;

·         providing banks with CRA credit for serving tribal communities even when Indian Country falls outside their CRA assessment areas; and

·         creating CRA scoring incentives for banks that choose to do business in Indian Country.

“We are both relieved and excited to see that the final rule governing the Community Reinvestment Act retains the landmark provisions for Indian Country that NCAI, NAFOA, and its partners fought so hard to get included,” said Kevin J. Allis, Chief Executive Officer of the National Congress of American Indians. “As we turn to implementing this new rule, NCAI plans to work closely with our Indian Country and federal partners to ensure that the CRA fully achieves its intended benefits for tribal nations and communities.”

For more information about the Final Rule, check out OCC’s Fact Sheet.

About the Community Reinvestment Act

The CRA was signed into law in 1977 to encourage depository institutions to help serve the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, in particular low- and moderate-income areas and populations. The Act also sought to deter discriminatory credit and lending practices against those populations, a practice commonly known as “redlining.” With many Indian reservations located in the poorest regions of the country, and with a significant portion of the Native population considered to have low or moderate incomes, on paper the CRA should have discernably enhanced the ability of Native people to access capital and credit through CRA-qualifying financial institutions. However, as the CDFI Fund’s landmark 2016 “Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities” report noted, while the CRA “was not intended to exclude Native Communities living on tribal practice it often does,” and banks under the Act’s current regulations can easily satisfy CRA requirements “without working with a Native Community located on Native lands (communities which otherwise meet CRA criteria)” if they so choose. The modernized regulations feature several measures to address these issues.

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