October 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022
Welcome to our Impact Report which chronicles CRL successes at executive, regulatory, and state levels. These achievements are heightened by influential research, strong coalitions, and effective communications strategies that we’ve employed for more than 20 years.
Fighting Regulatory Loopholes That Disadvantage Consumers
CRL in December joined a broad coalition of financial services and consumer organizations in a comment letter to support new legislation introduced by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), to close the industrial loan company (ILC) charter loophole. The loophole allows shadow banks and nonbank commercial entities to control a full-service FDIC-insured depository institution without being subject to the comprehensive set of rules designed to keep the financial system safe, as intended by Congress.
CRL and the Self-Help family of entities also filed a comment letter in December supporting the CDFI Fund’s efforts to ensure that the primary mission of any CDFI is to promote community development. We urged the Fund to adopt several consumer protections to prevent entities from obtaining a CDFI designation solely to falsely burnish their reputation while not providing a real benefit to the communities which they are supposed to serve.
Promoting Homeownership for First-Gen Buyers and Economic Security for Low-Wage Workers
CRL consultant Mitria Spotser (now our new VP and Director of Federal Policy) testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in December on a discussion draft bill that would allow the transfer of unused Veterans Administration benefits to help enable homeownership for the families of servicemembers who were denied the ability to utilize the program during their lives, often due to discrimination in the real estate and mortgage finance industries. In her video testimony, Spotser said the proposal would help the families of nearly 2 million veterans of color achieve homeownership.
We also joined the National Consumer Law Center to support Rep. Alma Adams’ (D-NC) Protect Wages Act (H.R. 9224), introduced to ensure that working Americans who hold consumer debt are not hit with excessive wage seizures that leave them unable to afford the necessities to support their families.
Defending Regulatory Protections for Consumers
A CRL poll found that Americans of all political affiliations strongly support the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to create rules that protect consumers from unfair financial practices such as discrimination, excessive fees, and abusive lending and debt collection. The findings should help inform discussions as the Supreme Court considers lawsuits seeking to invalidate the CFPB’s regulatory authority and independent funding mechanism.
CRL’s “Upsold and Weighed Down” analysis, released in December, showed that larger, longer term consumer loans in Colorado with rates up to 36 percent APR often included low-value, high-cost add-on products that provided no real value to consumers, but boosted lenders’ profit margins.
Highlighting Harms of Debt for Students of Color
After celebrating the announcement of the Biden administration’s cancellation of student debt – the culmination of years of work by CRL and coalition partners – we almost immediately were faced with the expected backlash from entrenched anti-consumer interests. CRL expressed our displeasure in a statement, and remain committed to ensuring that millions of Americans, including Black women and low-wealth borrowers disproportionately burdened by student debt, can enjoy the wealth-building opportunities offered by cancellation.
In November, we released “Paying from the Grave,” new research highlighting how high levels of college loan debt disproportionately burden and limit the life and work choices for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), breaking the promise of a college education as a great equalizer.
New Communications Outreach
The latest installment of our “In Focus” video series, hosted on our YouTube channel, highlights concern around the fast-growing Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) lending market. In the November post featuring Nadine Chabrier, senior policy and litigation counsel, we urge regulators to scrutinize the risks inherent in these lightly-regulated products, which have been linked to negative impacts on the financial health of consumers.
We also continue to use media outreach to highlight the risks of lenders using rent-a-bank arrangements to circumvent regulatory limits on high-interest payday lending. In the fourth quarter, CRL was mentioned in more than 900 articles, with a reach of more than 2 billion, in news outlets that included the Associated Press, MSN.com, Yahoo! News and NerdWallet.
In case you missed it, please review our 2021 annual report.
2002 Sustainers Club Launched
In December we launched the 2002 Sustainers Club, named for our founding year, to celebrate and recognize the dedicated donors who support CRL with a monthly gift. Learn more about joining the 2002 Club and its membership perks.
CRLers Celebrated the Holiday Season by Giving Back
Our Durham office collected funds from staff during our end of year "Party with a Purpose". We used those funds to provide Urban Ministries, a local non-profit serving those experiencing issues related to poverty and housing insecurity, with cold weather clothing items for their clients. Our donations were able to help more than two dozen people in need during the winter months.
In the DC office, CRLers participated in a "Holiday Shoebox Donation" event benefiting S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat), a non-profit organization that offers support and resources to those experiencing poverty and housing insecurity in our nation’s capital. The DC office donated items requested by S.O.M.E. to help the families they serve through the winter season.
Stay in Contact
Thank you again for your support of CRL. We could not do this work without you.
The need for smart, effective consumer financial protections has never been greater, and CRL is committed to the fight. While we have had significant success in the past two decades, your support is vital to continue our advocacy to expand financial opportunity and security and move the nation toward racial and economic equity. We invite you to connect with us on social media with the links below.
Please feel free to reach out to CRLPhilanthropy@responsiblelending.org if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. We would love to hear from you.
The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) is a non-partisan, nonprofit research and policy advocacy organization working to promote financial fairness and economic opportunity for all, end predatory lending, and close the racial wealth gap.
CRL’s expertise gives it trusted insight to evaluate the impact of financial products and policies on the wealth and economic stability of families of color, as well as rural residents, women, military personnel, low-wage, low-wealth and early-career workers and communities. CRL is an affiliate of Self-Help, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit community development financial institutions.
Working with committed local and national community, faith and civil rights partners, CRL has helped create a fairer and more inclusive economy by expanding access to responsible credit and capital while reducing abusive financial practices – including predatory lending, excessive bank fees, high-rate payday lending, and high-cost installment loans – so families can build economic stability and strengthen their communities.