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Agencies Publish Annual List of Nonmetropolitan Distressed and Underserved Areas

ChecklistThree federal government agencies announced on Wednesday that the 2015 list of distressed or underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geographies is now available.

The Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) have made available their annual list of non-metro areas where revitalization or stabilization activities will receive consideration as community development under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

An area's designation as a distressed or underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geography reflects that area's local economic conditions such as unemployment, poverty, and population changes. Areas are designated as such by the Fed, the OCC, and the FDIC in accordance with their CRA regulations. The criteria for designating an area as a distressed or underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geography can be found on the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) website. The site contains lists from the current and past years, as well as information about data sources that were used to generate the lists.

"Since 2005, the regulators have recognized that CRA can help meet critical needs in distressed and underserved rural areas," said Barry Wides, Deputy Comptroller for Community Affairs. "Even though these designated areas are middle income, there are indicators of distress due to poverty, unemployment, and population loss, and underserved areas are thinly populated and have difficulty providing essential infrastructure and delivering community needs.  The OCC encourages banks to provide financing to revitalize and stabilize these distressed and underserved rural areas."

A one-year lag is applied to the 2015 list for geographies that were listed in 2014 but are no longer designated as distressed or underserved on the 2015 list, according to the agencies. The revitalization and/or stabilization activities occurring in these geographies are eligible to receive consideration as community development under the CRA for up to 12 months after the current list is published.

The CRA was enacted by Congress in 1977 and was substantially revised in both 1995 and 2005. The act is intended to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of their respective local communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound operations, according to the Fed.

To view the 2015 list of areas designated as underserved nonmetropolitan middle-income geographies, click here. To view the source information and methodology for the 2015 list, click here.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.
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