Final CRA rules still in development, Fed vice chair tells group; no release date offered

No release date for final rules reforming Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance were announced in a speech Tuesday by the Federal Reserve’s top supervisor, who nevertheless did indicate the federal banking agencies are working hard on wrapping things up.

Speaking to an event sponsored by the National Fair Housing Alliance in Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve Board Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr said the Fed, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) are “benefitting from the thoughtful comment letters we received on the proposal, and all three agencies are hard at work finalizing the rule.”

The proposal to reform rules implementing the anti-redlining CRA was released for comment by the Fed in spring of 2022; comments were collected until Aug. 5, 2022. Since then, the agencies have been reviewing those comments.

About a year ago, Barr told another Washington conference that the three agencies “are diligently working together to craft a final rule in light of the extensive public comments we received on our proposal.” However, to date, the agencies have not finalized the rule.

In Tuesday’s remarks, Barr said it is his hope that once a new CRA rule is finalized, it will – along with the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) – support bank lending, investing, and services “that meet the needs of all communities, including those that continue to be underserved.”

The four priorities for the final rule, as listed by the banking agencies in the past, are:

  • Advancing the core purpose of the statute.
  • Addressing the significant changes in the banking sector since the regulations were last substantially revised more than a quarter-century ago (such as evaluating online and mobile banking, branchless banking, and hybrid models).
  • Providing greater clarity, consistency, and transparency “so that everyone – the public, community groups, and banks – understands what counts for CRA consideration and how a bank’s rating is determined” with a metric-based approach to CRA evaluations.
  • Aligning evaluations and data collection to bank size and type.

Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Supervision Michael S. Barr: Furthering the Vision of the Fair Housing Act