Outstanding Partnership in CRA

Making CRA Work in Rural America: Partnerships and Opportunities for Rural Community Reinvestment

Little is known about rural community development activity for which lenders earn CRA credit. While anecdotal evidence suggest such projects are uncommon, most rural CRA discussions focus on the need to increase rural activities. HAC’s Making CRA Work in Rural America: Partnerships and Opportunities for Rural Community Investment report serves to increase our knowledge of how CRA can work in rural areas by focusing on four successful rural community development projects.

The case studies in this report explore a preschool expansion in Maine, construction of rental housing for farmworkers in Colorado, construction of low- and moderate income housing in Minnesota, and the donation of a bank branch to a local credit union in Mississippi.

“The CRA will make a good project better, but not a bad project good”
– Greg Hohlen, Bremer Bank

The participants in the case studies identified the following key elements to the success of their projects and making the CRA work for rural areas:

  • Strong relationships between the lenders and the involved organizations,
  • Lender expertise in community lending, and
  • Understanding of alternative funding streams by all involved parties.

While the CRA-related activity was an important part of each case, the underlying fundamentals of the project were sound making these efforts a win-win for the bank and the community.

This report is part of HAC’s Three-Part “CRA in Rural America” series.

Nonprofit Capacity in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region_Cover

Nonprofit Capacity in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region

In high-need regions, such as the Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD), there is a lack of affordable, decent housing, and a dwindling supply of resources to address these needs. Nonprofit housing developers are a critical resource in rural communities, as these entities are often responsible for a significant amount of the affordable housing provision that occurs (Cook et al, 2009). Despite their significance in the community development sector, very little is often known about the network of nonprofit organizations that operate in rural communities or the gaps in service that may exist in these regions.

When nonprofit organizations operate in high-need areas, such as the Lower Mississippi Delta, the impact of serving low-income individuals and families can be exponentially greater than under otherwise-available resources. Obtaining accurate, detailed information about some of the housing programs that are offered in the LMD will assist overall community development efforts, as stakeholders will have increased insight into the institutional resources these organizations provide and be better able to effectively plan for housing and economic development activities.

 This guide provides an overview of nonprofit capacity in the Lower Mississippi Delta region with a focus on organizations that provide housing services. The guide highlights the programs offered by these organizations, identifies geographic service areas and gaps, and assesses capacity strengths and weaknesses within the region. Stakeholders can use this resource to assess the organizational infrastructure needs of the region, to better understand the assets in place, and to target initiatives.