In Buffalo, Green For All Launches a Policy Proposal to Green the CRA

Authors: Stacy Ho, Policy Associate

SOME NOTABLE ATTENDEES

Federal agencies that evaluate the performance of financial institutions under the CRA:
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Financial institutions from Buffalo:
  • HSBC
  • Bank of America
  • Citizens Bank
  • Key Bank
  • M&T Bank
Forsyth Street Advisors The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development The New York Department of Labor Representatives from the offices of:
  • U.S. Senator Charles Schumer
  • U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
  • U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins
  • U.S. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter
Buffalo Council Member David Rivera Representatives from the City of Buffalo's Office of Strategic Planning The Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo Local Initiatives Support Corporation The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. Also in attendance was the National People’s Action, which has been leading work on the CRA to ensure that it contributes to transparency, accountability, and stability in the financial system.
If you've been poking around our website lately, you have probably seen something about the convening we just hosted with PUSH Buffalo in Buffalo, New York about how the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) can help financial institutions support green jobs programs. Well, now that the convening is over, we are happy to say that it was a wonderful success. The CRA encourages regulated financial institutions (like banks) to support their local areas — including low- and moderate-income communities — by offering credit and investment capital. In Buffalo, we showed how "triple bottom line" initiatives — efforts to deliver positive results for people, for the planet, and for profit margins — qualify for CRA support, and how federal regulators should do more to give CRA support to such initiatives. The convening attracted an amazing group of attendees, including representatives from federal and state agencies, elected officials, local financial institutions, local regulatory agencies, and local and national community and advocacy groups. Green For All and PUSH Buffalo told this impressive audience about two different "triple bottom line" investment opportunities in Buffalo. The first, Green Jobs for Buffalo, is a PUSH-led community-based green job training program. The second, Green Jobs–Green New York, is a statewide residential retrofitting program. The successful implementation of both of these programs is critical to creating good-paying jobs in Buffalo's struggling neighborhoods while reducing the city's carbon emissions and utility bills. PUSH and its partners in the Green Jobs for Buffalo effort (including the Outsource Center, Environmental Education Associates, and the Massachusetts Avenue Project) gave excellent presentations on their current work in three emerging green sectors of Buffalo's economy: energy-efficiency and renewable energy retrofitting of affordable housing; environmental stewardship, including abatement and remediation of indoor and outdoor environmental hazards; and development of a regional food system. Each of the partners is doing strong work individually to grow Buffalo's green economy, and they are working together on Green Jobs for Buffalo to provide on-the-job training, employment placement, career pathways, and green business incubation for low-income individuals and people of color to meet the growing demand for qualified green workers in these sectors. Green For All and Forsyth Street Advisors got into the nuts and bolts of Green Jobs–Green New York, explaining that the program will finance the upfront costs of as many as one million retrofits in areas facing environmental and economic burdens and create an expected 60,000 job-years over five years. The program's revolving loan fund, which will finance the retrofits, is an additional opportunity for private investors to reap healthy, multi-bottom-line returns. The fundamental goal of the convening was to share this information and analysis with financial institutions, regulators, and other decision makers — as well as with the community groups who could benefit from, and may want to seek out, CRA support. We knew we had met that goal when, after the presentations, the financial institution HSBC committed to support Green Jobs for Buffalo moving forward. We hope that is only the beginning. We look forward to ongoing conversations with those who came about how they and their organizations can help make our vision a reality. To learn more about the Community Reinvestment Act and how you can help green jobs programs get CRA support — including through public hearings this summer.

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