Bureau plans to expand efforts to address ‘bank deserts’ in rural communities

Referring to many rural communities as “bank deserts,” a report issued Tuesday by the federal consumer financial protection agency said the agency plans to expand its efforts to address that condition and “other challenges facing the people and families of rural America.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra said the agency would be taking three broad approaches to resolving the issue of ensuring that “rural communities can better access relationship banking services and achieve their economic potential.”

Specifically, the agency said in a release, it will:

  • Dig deeper to understand the unique needs of rural communities by analyzing data and developing effective ways for the people living in those communities to file complaints. The agency said it would conduct research to fill in data gaps on rural communities, particularly on the unique needs of those in the agricultural sector, rural housing, and trying to access credit. It will also identify more effective ways for rural people to access and use the agency’s complaint tool, it said.
  • Hear directly from rural communities and the financial institutions that serve them by conducting online and in-person roundtables with rural workers, farmers, and small business owners, “including in the Deep South, Appalachia, Indian Country, and the Rio Grande Valley.”
  • Work with federal partners – including the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, along with other agencies – to meet the needs of rural communities and to ensure that rural communities have the resources they need to thrive and that they are protected from lawbreakers within the financial sector.

CFPB Releases Report on Financial Challenges Facing Rural Communities