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ICBA to HUD Secretary - Banks Are Close to Their Communities

Washington, D.C. (Nov. 24, 2004)-Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) recently sent a letter to Secretary Alphonso Jackson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) expressing concern over his remarks that suggest that credit unions are close to their communities, but banks are not.

The letter references comments made by Secretary Jackson, reported in the October 25, 2004 edition of the Credit Union Journal ["HUD Secretary Says Most Banks Too Big for Communities, Applauds CUs"]. In the letter, ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine remarked, "While I agree that some banks are 'just too big' to have a close relationship with their communities, the nearly 5,000 members of the Independent Community Bankers of America define themselves by their commitment to serving their customers and communities."

Fine pointed to the strong support community banks have given to HUD's goal of increasing home ownership, particularly among minority groups. "Community banks' commitment to home lending has greatly increased in recent years. They now depend heavily on the Federal Home Loan Banks, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac to obtain funding for local mortgage loans," Fine wrote. "Since HUD is so intimately involved in the regulation of these housing GSEs, I believe it is essential that you fully understand the role that community banks play in this area."

Many ICBA members are heavily involved in efforts to promote home ownership in many ways, including affiliations with groups such as Habitat for Humanity. In May 2004, ICBA established an alliance with Habitat for Humanity International to further develop working relationships between its thousands of members and the nearly 1,700 local Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the nation. ICBA and HFHI are already planning a National Build Day in June 2005, an effort that will encompass multiple locations and is expected to involve hundreds of community bank leaders and staff volunteers.

The full text of ICBA's letter is available at www.icba.org.