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The Massachusetts Community & Banking Council (MCBC) was established in 1990 to encourage community investment in low- and moderate-income and minority neighborhoods. MCBC brings together community and bank representatives to promote a better understanding of the credit and financial needs of lower-income neighborhoods and provides information, assistance and direction to banks and community groups in addressing those needs.

What We Do…

MCBC operates through its committees, each co-chaired by a bank and a community representative. Today, over 150 bankers, community representatives, public officials and others participate in and/or receive regular information on MCBC committee activities. The committees each address a variety of community credit and banking issues:

MCBC’s Affordable Housing Committee serves as a forum for information sharing on affordable housing issues. The Committee regularly hosts speakers from public, private and non-profit housing organizations to share information on successful program models, housing development trends and emerging issues. During 2006, Committee members heard presentations on the CHAPA/MACDC Small Cities Revitalization Project, Chapter 40B, proposed changes in CDBG funding, the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, MassDocs and proposed changes in Boston’s Inclusionary Development Policy.

MCBC’s Banking Services Committee, with the active participation and support of the Massachusetts Division of Banks and the Massachusetts Bankers Association, continues to promote Basic Banking for Massachusetts, a unique, voluntary effort to provide low-cost accounts to customers with limited banking needs. In 2007, 125 Massachusetts banks qualified for participation under the Basic Banking for Massachusetts guidelines, representing 66 percent of all bank branches in the state. The Committee also continues to work to expand access to consumer education programs, especially for residents currently utilizing check cashing establishments. In 2006, the Committee launched a pilot program to encourage more community-based organizations to provide financial education as part of their on-going programs. Committee members also actively participate in the Boston New Alliance Task Force, a new public-private initiative to address the financial service and education needs of recent immigrants.

MCBC’s Economic Development Committee, which includes city, state, community, non-profit and business and bank representatives, works to identify ways to leverage public and private resources to support business development. The Committee regularly hosts speakers from a variety of city, state and community-based programs that assist small businesses and promote economic development. The Committee developed the Small Business Financial Resource Guide: Information for Small Businesses in Boston and a companion report covering Greater Boston to help small business owners find the right kind of assistance to meet their business needs. The Committee also published Getting Credit for Business, a report on strategies to increase access to credit for small businesses. Recent Committee projects include:

  • Publication of MCBC’s eighth study of small business lending patterns in Boston and neighboring communities. The report includes data on lending in lower-income and minority neighborhoods, the performance of major types of lenders and the activities of non-bank intermediaries. Over 250 copies of Patterns of Small Business Lending in Greater Boston, 1999-2005 were distributed to bankers, community organizations and public officials (December, 2006).

  • Sponsorship, with the Pioneer Institute, of “Trends in Small Business Financing: Best Theory and Practice,” a conference focused on current trends in small business financing, models for increasing private and public capital support for small businesses, and information and technical assistance services. The program was attended by more than 100 bankers, academics, business assistance providers, government officials and others (December, 2005).

  • Sponsorship of “Getting Credit for Business III,” a forum on demographic and economic changes effecting small businesses, lending patterns and strategies to ensure access to credit for small business owners. The program was attended by more than 70 bankers, technical assistance providers, public officials and others (June, 2006).

  • Participation, with the Massachusetts Association of CDCs, on the Small Business Assistance Advisory Council which was established by the state legislature in 2003 to assess the assistance and resources available to small businesses across the state.

  • Sponsorship, with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Bankers Association and the Massachusetts Small Business Assistance Advisory Council, of Banking Partners, a new small business loan program designed to improve access to financing by very small businesses.

MCBC’s Mortgage Lending Committee brings together banks, housing advocates and city and state officials to work to expand homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and to sustain home ownership in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The Committee has sponsored a variety of projects including publication of the Home Counseling Directory, Boston; the Home Counseling Directory, Massachusetts; the Directory of Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Services in Greater Boston; Expanding Home Ownership Opportunities: Recommendations to Increase the Number of Latino Home Buyers; A Look at Minority Loan Denials and Expanding Homeownership Opportunity: The SoftSecond Loan Program, 1991-2003. Recent Committee activities include:

  • Continued collaboration with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) Fund to track the quarterly performance of the SoftSecond ™ Mortgage Program in an effort to identify ways that banks and community organizations can work together to avoid SoftSecond foreclosures. As of June 30, 2006, the delinquency rate for Soft Second loans was 1.9 percent, as compared to 3.5 percent for all mortgage loans in Massachusetts.

  • Publication of Changing Patterns XIII, MCBC’s annual report on mortgage lending patterns in Greater Boston. The report includes data on 2005 lending by race and income and the comparative performance of major types of lenders in 108 individual communities in and around Boston. This year, the report was expanded to include lending data in the state’s major subdivisions: 14 counties, nine federally-defined metropolitan areas and 13 Regional Planning Agency areas. Over 350 copies of Changing Patterns XIII were distributed to bankers, community organizations, housing advocates and public officials (November, 2006).

  • Publication of Borrowing Trouble, a report on higher-cost mortgage loans in Greater Boston in 2005. The report includes data on subprime home purchase and refinance loans by race and income in 108 communities and in the state’s major subdivisions. Over 390 copies of Borrowing TroubleVII were distributed to bankers, community organizations, foreclosure prevention counseling agencies and public officials (January 2007).

  • Partnership with the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Massachusetts Mortgage Association, the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association, the Massachusetts Credit Union League, housing and consumer advocates and others on the Massachusetts Fair Lending Task Force. The Task Force built on the work of MCBC’s 2004 Roundtable Discussion on minority mortgage loan denials and the subsequent publication of A Look at Minority Loan Denials, a summary of the meeting discussion. The Task Force worked to develop strategies and recommendations to assist in reducing minority denial rates and minority/white disparity ratios. The final Massachusetts Fair Lending Task Force Report and Recommendations were presented at a Fair Lending Summit in October, 2006. As a member of the new Fair Lending Coordinating Committee, MCBC will continue to work with the industry trade association to plan, oversee and mange promotion of the Task Force’s recommendations.
 

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