Fed agencies discuss CRA considerations in response to Covid-19
On March 19, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC issued a joint statement encouraging financial institutions to work with low and moderate-income customers and communities who may be adversely affected by Covid-19. The agencies state that they will provide favorable CRA consideration for financial institution’s retail banking services and retail lending activities in their assessment areas that respond to the needs of affected low and moderate-income individuals, small businesses, and small farms consistent with safe and sound banking practices. These activities may include: (i) waiving certain fees; (ii) easing check-cashing restrictions; (iii) expanding the availability of short-term, unsecured credit and increasing credit card limits for creditworthy borrowers; (iv) providing alternative service options; and (v) offering payment accommodations, such as permitting deferred or skipped payments or extending payment due dates to avoid delinquencies and negative credit bureau reporting. Financial institutions that engage in qualifying community development (CD) activities will also receive favorable CRA consideration, including but not limited to loans, investments, or services that support digital access for low and moderate-income individuals or communities, as well as economic development activities that sustain small business operations. In addition, favorable consideration will also be given to CD activities that help to stabilize communities affected by Covid-19 located in a broader statewide or regional area that encompasses a financial institution’s CRA assessment area, “provided that such institutions are responsive to the CD needs and opportunities that exist in their own assessment area(s).” The joint statement is effective until six months after the national emergency declaration is lifted, unless extended by the agencies.