Since its inception over forty years ago, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has encouraged banks to serve low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods and populations. Originally signed into law in 1977, the law mandates that banks provide support for communities that are less economically stable through lending, investment and service. The CRA is an example of public policy designed to spur private sector action, with particular attention to those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
People with disabilities make up a significant part of the LMI population yet the specific needs of this sizable subpopulation are often overlooked. In 2018, more than one quarter (27 percent) of working-age people with disabilities were living below the poverty level, over twice the rate of those without disabilities, and people with disabilities often are excluded from the labor market and economic opportunities.
Vibrant communities are best supported when economic opportunities are inclusive of LMI populations, including people with disabilities. Twenty-eight years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and more than forty years after the passage of the CRA, there is an opportunity to reexamine the approaches, roles, and responsibilities of regulated financial institutions to proactively address the financial access and economic opportunity needs of people with disabilities.