Category Archives: In the News

SLEHCRA Co-Chairs Pen OpEd

Elisabeth Risch and Jackie Hutchinson penned an OpEd article that was focused on the recent NCRC report that received both local and national press attention. The article ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was also included in this month’s Community Builders Network newsletter.

The data and the maps in this report help to visualize what many of us already know and experience. Lending is concentrated in white areas and scarce in black neighborhoods. Certain neighborhoods have poor access to banking resources, and many households are unbanked or underbanked, particularly African-American households. In the entire St. Louis metropolitan area, median family income of the neighborhood is the best predictor of home loan activity. However, in the City of St. Louis, the racial composition of a neighborhood is also a strong predictor of mortgage activity. In hyper-segregated neighborhoods in which the population is over 75 percent black, less than one percent of homes received a home purchase loan in the 2012-2014 period. Most problematic: the lack of lending in high minority areas is not fully explained by income differences. Credit is still available to white neighborhoods with the same income level.

SLEHCRA will continue our work promoting financial services and lending equity.

Regulators Restrict Bank Payday Lending Practices


On 4/25/2013 the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) both released a new proposed supervisory guidance on deposit advance products offered by some banks. Comptroller of Currency Thomas J. Curry states, “The guidance today is an important step toward better protecting consumers and enhancing the safety and soundness of national banks and federal savings associations that may be offering similar products.”  The proposed guidance would implement new safeguards to prevent consumers from falling into high-cost debt traps.


Deposit Advance products are short-term, small dollar loans that banks make available to customers with recurring direct deposits with the bank.  A recent study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that deposit advance products and payday loans trap many consumers in a debt spiral because their ability to repay is not taken into consideration. Many consumer advocates say that the deposit advance is nothing more than a payday loan in disguise.  According to Dory Rand, President of Woodstock Institute, “Bank payday loans are predatory products cloaked in the credibility of a mainstream financial institution. While it’s high time for bank payday loans to disappear, the OCC and the FDIC’s proposed guidance takes major steps towards reducing the consumer harm caused by these pernicious products.”


The proposed guidance would:

  • Require the bank to assess a borrower’s ability to repay the payday loan while covering living expenses.
  • Limit the number of bank payday loans offered to a consumer to six per year.
  • End Automatic credit limit increases.
  • Investigate whether banks’ payday loans violate any existing consumer protection, federal, or state laws.
  • Outline the safety and soundness risks bank payday products may pose to banks.


SLEHCRA, along with many other consumer advocacy groups, had recently submitted CRA public comment letters to the OCC voicing concern about Wells Fargo’s deposit advance product.  The new guidance also has implications for the St. Louis region as Regions Bank, which has branches in the St. Louis region, offers a payday loan product called Regions Ready Advance.  Therefore, SLEHCRA welcomes this proposed guidance from the FDIC and OCC as a way to significantly increase consumer protection both locally and nationally for bank payday products.

FDICs Press Release

OCCs Press Release

Community Members Protest at Business Bank of St. Louis

On Monday, October 22, SLEHCRA member organization Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) protested at Business Bank of St. Louis for opposing St. Louis County’s foreclosure mediation ordinance. The advocacy group held a protest outside of Business Bank’s office after city police denied them the opportunity to hold a meeting with Business Bank CEO Larry Kirby.

Read the story covered by CBS St. Louis as well as SLEHCRA’s press release on Business Bank.

SLEHCRA has also issued a Public Comment Letter to the FDIC on Business Bank’s CRA performance.

SLEHCRA Mentioned in St. Louis Post-Dispatch

SLEHCRA was recently referenced in a St. Louis Post Dispatch news story on the state of the unbanked and underbanked in the St. Louis area. The article, which came out on September 13 2012, quoted four SLEHCRA members: Jacqueline Hutchinson of Community Action Agency of St. Louis County, Rance Thomas of North County Churches United for Racial Harmony and Justice, Elisabeth Risch of Equal Housing Opportunity Council (EHOC), and Rose Eichelberger of Ready, Aim, Advocate.

SLEHCRA members discussed the current situation with the unbanked and underbanked in St. Louis, the challenges facing the community, and the progress that has been made in bridging the gap and creating more financial inclusion.  The article also mentioned the opening of three new bank branches  in St. Louis county as a result of SLEHCRA’s effort.  The new bank branches mentioned are in Pagedale, Jennings, and Olivette, and they are operated by Midwest BankCentre, First National Bank of St. Louis, and Enterprise Bank and Trust respectively.

Read the full article here.

Midwest BankCentre settles with Department of Justice

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday June 16th it had reached a settlement with Midwest BankCentre.  According to the agreement, the bank will open a new branch in a predominately African-American neighborhood and will provide $1.45 million in additional products, services, and outreach to African-American communities.

SLEHCRA applauds Midwest BankCentre’s commitments!

See the DoJ press release here.

Also check out some of the press on this story:

St. Louis Beacon

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

St. Louis Business Journal

St. Louis Public Radio

and BET

SLEHCRA in St. Louis Beacon

“There is nothing catchy about the acronym SLEHCRA — St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance — but the nonprofit coalition is making a name for itself with its efforts to promote bank investment in local minority and poor communities…”

Read the full article about SLEHCRA in the Beacon here.

SLEHCRA Applauds First National Bank of St Louis’s Commitment to Strengthen Low-Income Communities

On December 21, 2010, members of SLEHCRA gathered to applaud a commitment from First National Bank of St. Louis to invest resources in communities in north St. Louis County, St. Louis City and northwest St. Clair County. The bank is adding these areas to its assessment area and its investment in this expanded service area will total $2.75 million over the next four years.

First National Bank of St. Louis has agreed to undertake the following activities to invest in minority communities:

  • the bank will expand its assessment area to include north St. Louis County, St. Louis City and northwest St. Clair County;
  • the bank will open a branch location in its new service area within 18 months;
  • the bank will commit $2 million in community development loans and investments within the newly incorporated service area;
  • the bank will offer a discount mortgage loan product for residents of these areas, which includes up to $2500 in closing costs and/or a 1/2 % discount in interest rate, setting aside up to $500,000 for the discounts;
  • the bank will commit $100,000 for Fair Lending and Community Reinvestment Activities;
  • the bank is hiring two new community development specialists, and will be increasing its visibility in minority and low-income communities through marketing and financial literacy training.

See our Press Release for more details!

Or read all the details in the complete agreement.

The event and announcement was covered by the following news sources:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch


St. Louis American

St. Louis Beacon

Belleville News Democrat