SLEHCRA Challenges Busey Bank’s Acquisition of TheBANK of Edwardsville and Calls for Protection and Strengthening of the CRA

October 30, 2018 – The St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) submitted public comments asking federal regulators only approve Busey Bank’s acquisition of TheBANK of Edwardsville in the event of Busey signing a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). This decision was made after extensive internal discussion with Busey representatives and is based on the worsening performance of Busey’s lending to low- and moderate- income borrowers. Busey entered the St. Louis market by purchasing Pulaski Bank, which was an industry leader in serving low- and moderate- income borrowers and communities. Likewise, TheBANK of Edwardsville is an innovative leader in serving the needs of the community and coalition members are concerned the merger will dilute those best practices.

“When Busey Bank arrived in our city, their executives gave our coalition members broad assurances that the CRA performance of the formerly Pulaski Bank branches wouldn’t suffer and would be bolstered by the size of the Busey. Instead, we saw a formerly industry leader replaced by a lending institution that now lags behind their peers in the St. Louis metropolitan area. It is due to this track record that our coalition is seeking a Community Benefits Agreement with Busey as part of their acquisition with TheBANK of Edwardsville. It is imperative that the low- and moderate- income communities of St. Louis have access to banking services and credit. This merger is an opportunity for Busey Bank to create a significant plan setting forth clear and specific measurable goals that can make a huge impact on access to financial services and investment in low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color,” said Elisabeth Risch, SLEHCRA Co-Chair, representing the Metro St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC).

Additionally, advocates will use this moment to speak to the importance of not only protecting, but strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). As the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is looking to change how banks are examined and assessed under the CRA, SLEHCRA hopes to raise awareness of this potential threat to local CRA investments. Local advocates point out that the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)’s recent report shows that potential changes could cost Missouri’s first congressional district as much as $320 million in lending over a five year period. “This could devastate neighborhood stabilization and drive African American homeownership rates even lower. This will only increase the massive wealth gap between black and white households. It is also important to note that strengthening the CRA was a call to action in the Forward Through Ferguson report. We hope regional leaders join our coalition members in submitting comments that encourage a strengthening, not weakening, of the CRA during this regulatory review period. Protecting and strengthening the CRA is something that matters to St. Louis. We need to make sure that the OCC understands how valuable this investment is to low- and moderate- income communities across the St. Louis metro,” said Rose Eichelberger, SLEHCRA Member, representing R.A.A. – Ready, Aim, Advocate.


St. Louis City and Community Groups Pass Resolutions Supporting A Strengthened CRA

As part of NCRC’s #TreasureCRA campaign to protect and strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), SLEHCRA members have been working to build grassroots and official support for protecting the CRA from potentially harmful changes.

The St. Louis community is one with a longstanding history of advocacy for more equitable access to banking services. From the famous Jefferson Bank protests to the current work of SLEHCRA, St. Louisans have long been striving to improve our community and reinvest in areas that have been redlined. As the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) looks to make potentially significant changes to how the CRA is enforced, we are once again stepping up to promote reinvestment in low to moderate income communities and communities of color.

The City of St. Louis passed Resolution 97 in support of a strong CRA. The lead sponsor of the city’s resolution was Ald. Marlene Davis. After the passage of the resolution, Ald. Davis said “I sponsored this resolution in favor of CRA on behalf of the residents of the City of St. Louis because it’s the right thing to do!  Any time profits are being made by servicing the financial matters of our citizens, rules like CRA keep the process equitable for the community and the financial institutions.” Additionally,  the Vaughn Tenant Association, Urban 21, Moorish Science Temple #5 and Kingdom Women Ministries all passed resolutions of support. 

SLEHCRA is continuing to pursue more resolutions in support of protecting and strengthening the CRA. We thank all of the organizations and elected officials who have already shown that they #TreasureCRA. If your organization or municipality would be interested in also passing a resolution in support, please contact SLEHCRA for suggested resolution language.

SLEHCRA is also working to make sure that St. Louisans submit comment letters to the regulator considering altering the CRA. This is one of the most important things we can do to impact the regulatory process. Please consider taking a few minutes to submit a letter during this public comment period. For sample language to help you draft your comment, as well as steps to submitting a comment, please check out this great resource from NCRC.


SLEHCRA Releases the 2017 Report to the Community

Every year, SLEHCRA releases a Report to the Community. We have made it our priority to report the outcomes of SLEHCRA’s work and what banks are doing to meet the needs of the community. Our annual report highlights the services and investments made by banks to support non-profit organizations, small businesses, and residents living in low to moderate income neighborhoods. We believe that it is important to track changes that have been made, and provide transparency in community investments to encourage continued growth.

Read our 2017 Report to the Community here!

SLEHCRA Responds To Bombshell Redlining Reporting by Center For Investigative Reporting

Feb. 15, 2018 — The St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) welcomes today’s major national story on the persistence of redlining in our nation’s real estate finance system. SLEHCRA has spent years working to improve access to credit and banking services in our metropolitan area’s communities of color. In recent years, we’ve highlighted respected national housing policy groups, such as National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) the Urban Institute, whose data analyses show almost no mortgage activity in North St. Louis. The most recent maps continue to show this striking trend. 

Lending Maps 2012-2016 – City

The coalition co-chairs offered the following reactions to today’s news.

“Upon the release of today’s finding by Center For Investigative Reporting, SLEHCRA is sad to say that nothing in the story surprises our coalition members. We have long pointed to the continued lack of lending in Northern St. Louis neighborhoods, both in the city and county. We have also pointed out that many of the branches opened in recent years are in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, meaning that the new branches are serving neighborhoods that are growing increasingly whiter and wealthier and not the majority Black neighborhoods, where more of the low and moderate income families that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is intended to benefit reside. As American household wealth is largely found in families’ home equity, we know that this problem not only closes the door on the “American Dream” of homeownership, it also reinforces a system that keeps minority families trapped in a cycle of intergenerational poverty.”  Elisabeth Risch, SLEHCRA Co-Chair, representing the Metro St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC)

“We reiterate our calls for more branches opening in the St. Louis metropolitan area’s predominantly Black communities, the establishment of a “greenlining fund”, and other programs and investments aimed at increasing credit access in the Black community. Lending in our majority minority neighborhoods is lower than in generations. We hope that this research is call to action that brings lenders, nonprofits and community leaders to the table for a real discussion about what needs to be done to create an equitable lending ecosystem in St. Louis. SLEHCRA stands ready to help in efforts to lead our region forward towards a more equitable future.” Jackie Hutchinson, SLEHCRA Co-Chair, representing the Consumers Council of Missouri


SLEHCRA and Woodstock Institute Partner for Community Development Plan with The PrivateBank

SLEHCRA is happy to join with our allies at Chicago’s Woodstock Institute in announcing a $3 billion multi-market Community Development Plan with The PrivateBank as part of their merger with CIBC. St. Louis is The PrivateBank’s second largest market area. The PrivateBank has branches in both markets, but a far larger presence in Chicago. From the press release:

“The PrivateBank today announced a three-year Community Development Plan to further its recognized programs to serve the credit, banking and financial literacy needs of the individuals and communities it serves.

Under the Community Development Plan, The PrivateBank will commit at least $3 billion to loans, investment and charitable contributions for small businesses and underserved individuals, families and communities within its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) assessment areas. The Plan was developed in collaboration with its community partners at the Woodstock Institute and the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA).  The Plan demonstrates The PrivateBank’s commitment to remaining a leader in community development activities as it becomes part of the CIBC organization following the expected successful completion of the pending merger with CIBC by the end of June 2017.  The Plan has the support of CIBC.”

Later in the release, SLEHCRA Co-chair Elisabeth Risch speaks to the importance of these agreements for increasing access to banking services and products:

SLEHCRA is pleased to partner with the PrivateBank on this Community Development Plan. This Plan represents significant commitments that will increase access to homeownership, build capacity of small businesses, and invest in our communities in St. Louis. Our coalition is looking forward to working with the PrivateBank to implement this plan over the next three years.”

Highlights of the plan include:

  • Establish two new branches in underserved communities in its Chicago CRA assessment area, including one located in a low-income census tract;
  • Originate an aggregate $900 million of small business loans;
  • Originate an aggregate $1 billion in residential mortgage loans throughout its CRA assessment areas, including $200 million in loans to underserved borrowers and communities;
  • Make at least $100 million in aggregate CRA-qualified investments;
  • Originate an aggregate $1 billion in Community Development loans throughout its CRA assessment areas; and
  • Contribute an aggregate $10 million in charitable donations, including at least $5.5 million in CRA-qualified charitable contributions, to its community partners.

The full press release can be read here.

2016 Report to the Community

Over the past year, the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) collected information from area banks to gather an aggregate look at their lending and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) activities across the region into a report for the community.

This report is intended to provide an update on the changes that have occurred in financial services that help meet the needs of the community. We believe it is important to track changes over time and to report those changes publicly. We intend for this to highlight positive changes and to build accountability for continued progress.

In addition to collecting information from lending institutions, community members were also asked about their experiences with and attitudes toward banking within their own communities. The results of these examinations are published here for an overview of the state of banking services being offered throughout the greater St. Louis service area.

Download the full report here:   SLEHCRA_CommunityReport_2016

SLEHCRA and Enterprise Bank & Trust Announce Groundbreaking Community Benefits Agreement

March 16, 2017, ST. LOUIS —The St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) and Enterprise Bank & Trust (Enterprise) have entered into a groundbreaking Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) designed as a catalyst to drive meaningful impact in local communities. Enterprise, in connection with its acquisition of Eagle Bank and Trust, is expanding on its commitment to lending and community development in low- and moderate-income communities. The collaboration between these two groups will substantially impact the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas through specific loan targets, service location openings, training, education, and community outreach.

Taken in total and combined with Enterprise’s historical performance in these specific areas, this CBA is valued at more than $1.8 billion in total investments into St. Louis and Kansas City area communities. Enterprise’s specific commitment includes:

  • $30 million yearly lending goal for mortgages to both St. Louis’ and Kansas City’s Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) communities.
  • $24 million yearly lending goal for mortgages to minority borrowers in St. Louis and Kansas City communities.
  • Two service location openings in LMI census tracts.
  • $180 million in small business loans to businesses and business owners located in LMI communities.
  • Maintenance of at least 10 percent of the merged bank’s assets being used for community development lending.
  • $120,000 in funding for both matched savings accounts and financial education throughout both the St. Louis and Kansas City area markets. Total value of these important community development and educational services is $240.000.
  • $120,000 to marketing materials for underserved communities.

The agreement is structured to spur economic equity – to address the issues of access to homeownership, small business advancement, and deficient resources required to fuel financial power in these communities.

“By working together we are helping ensure that Low-to-Moderate Income communities and communities of color are receiving the access to credit that is necessary for families and individuals to build wealth, start small businesses and participate in the mainstream of the American economy,” said Jackie Hutchinson, SLEHCRA co-chair.

“We are extremely proud of the work that both SLEHCRA and Enterprise put into this meaningful agreement, which demonstrates a new trend in impact-oriented funding,” said Jim Lally, president Enterprise Financial Services Corp, the parent company of Enterprise. “We wanted to ensure this investment went beyond financial support for these communities to make a long-term impact for change for the communities we serve.”

View the Press Release here [PDF]

View the full Community Benefits Agreement here [PDF]

About SLEHCRA: The St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA) is a coalition of non-profit and community organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area. SLEHCRA works to increase investment in minority communities, regardless of income, and in low- and moderate-income communities, regardless of race, by ensuring that banks are meeting their obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending laws. Additional information is available at

About Enterprise: Enterprise Financial Services Corp (NASDAQ: EFSC), with approximately $5 billion in assets, is a bank holding company headquartered in Clayton, Mo. Enterprise Bank & Trust operates 28 branch offices in the St. Louis, Kansas City and Phoenix metropolitan areas. EFSC offers a range of business and personal banking services, and wealth management services. Enterprise Trust, a division of Enterprise Bank & Trust, provides financial planning, estate planning, investment management, and trust services to businesses, individuals, institutions, retirement plans and non-profit organizations. Additional information is available at

Forward-Looking Statements: Readers should note that, in addition to the historical information contained herein, this press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of, and intended to be covered by, the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about the Company’s plans, expectations, and projections of future financial and operating results, as well as statements regarding the Company’s plans, objectives, expectations or consequences of announced transactions (including the Company’s announced, pending merger with Jefferson County Bancshares, Inc.). The Company uses words such as “may,” “might,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “could,” “continue,” “anticipate,” and “intend,” and variations of such words and similar expressions, in this communication to identify such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated from such statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, the Company’s ability to efficiently integrate acquisitions into its operations, retain the customers of these businesses and grow the acquired operations, credit risk, changes in the appraised valuation of real estate securing impaired loans, outcomes of litigation and other contingencies, exposure to general and local economic conditions, risks associated with rapid increases or decreases in prevailing interest rates, consolidation in the banking industry, competition from banks and other financial institutions, the Company’s ability to attract and retain relationship officers and other key personnel, burdens imposed by federal and state regulation, changes in regulatory requirements, changes in accounting regulation or standards applicable to banks, as well as other risk factors described in the Company’s 2015 Annual Report on Form 10-K and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update them in light of new information or future events unless required under the federal securities laws.



SLEHCRA Joins Other St. Louis Nonprofits to Sponsor Mayoral Forum

SLEHCRA is proud to partner with other St. Louis nonprofits, both public television and radio and the St. Louis American to bring city residents an evening of discussion about the issues facing the City of St. Louis. This forum will be held at The Sheldon (3648 Washington) on the evening of Wednesday, February 22nd. We look forward to hearing the candidates discuss their plans for community development and building a more equitable city.

While the event is free, you must RSVP (limited seating). Please RSVP here.

SLEHCRA Joins MoPIRG to Oppose High Overdraft Fees

MoPIRG and Frontier Group have released a report detailing how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) helps defend consumers from exorbitant overdraft fees. From the report’s Executive Summary:

  • The 10 banks that collected the most overdraft revenue through the first three quarters of 2016, in order, were: Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, TD Bank, U.S. Bank, PNC Bank, Suntrust Bank, Regions Bank, Branch Banking and Trust, and Woodforest National Bank.
  • Through the first three quarters of 2016, 626 large banks reported collecting $8.4 billion in revenue from overdraft and NSF fees, an increase of 3.6 percent over the same period in 2015. American consumers should look to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has already enforced overdraft regulations and returned millions of dollars to consumers, to take new action to prevent unfair overdraft fees.

SLEHCRA highly recommends reading the report and supports MoPIRG’s campaign against banks using high overdraft fees.

The full report can be read here: MoPIRG Overdraft Fee Report

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.