Q: § __.22(b)(2) & (3) – 2: Must an institution lend to all portions of its assessment area?
A: The term “assessment area” describes the geographic area within which the agencies assess how well an institution, regardless of examination type, has met the specific performance tests and standards in the rule. The Agencies do not expect that simply because a census tract is within an institution’s assessment area(s), the institution must lend to that census tract. Rather the Agencies will be concerned with conspicuous gaps in loan distribution that are not explained by the performance context. Similarly, if an institution delineated the entire county in which it is located as its assessment area, but could have delineated its assessment area as only a portion of the county, it will not be penalized for lending only in that portion of the county, so long as that portion does not reflect illegal discrimination or arbitrarily exclude low- or moderate-income geographies. The capacity and constraints of an institution, its business decisions about how it can best help to meet the needs of its assessment area(s), including those of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and other aspects of the performance context, are all relevant to explain why the institution is serving or not serving portions of its assessment area(s).
This Interagency Q&A, and others, was released in July 2016.
The 2016 Q&As consolidates and supersedes all previously published “Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment,” and were noted as being effective immediately. They may be found here: http://www.ffiec.gov/cra/qnadoc.htm