Community Dividend

Community Affairs Officer's note - Issue 1, 2003

Community Affairs Officer's note - Issue 1, 2003

Richard M. Todd - Vice President, Community Development

Published August 1, 2003  |  August 2003 issue

Credit access in the Hmong community

This edition of Community Dividendtouches on a broad spectrum of topics. The issues and ideas here are diverse, but they are all variations on a theme of promoting fair and impartial access to credit for all, which is the core of our mission in Community Affairs.

Our cover story summarizes the findings of a recent Federal Reserve study that examined credit access in the Twin Cities Hmong community. As authors David Fettig and Arthur J. Rolnick explain, the findings reveal that, overall, Hmong-owned small businesses in the Twin Cities obtained credit from conventional sources to about the same extent as Caucasian-owned businesses in the same neighborhoods. By looking at credit markets from the business borrowers' perspective, the study provides a useful supplement to bank lending data reported under the Community Reinvestment Act. A related feature recaps a Community Affairs event on April 9 that focused on the study findings. And in "A Conversation With . . .," business leader Kou Vang shares his perspective on the Hmong community's economic evolution in the Twin Cities.

A special feature discusses small-scale farming, which is practiced by growing numbers of new immigrants. The article outlines some of the barriers that can prevent new immigrants from obtaining the land and credit they need to start a farm. It profiles three programs that are designed to help farmers overcome those barriers.

Lastly, two additional features focus on consumer protection and education, respectively. The first describes upcoming changes to Regulation C, which implements the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The changes, effective in 2004, are designed primarily to assist regulators in the enforcement of fair lending laws and enable greater understanding of the subprime mortgage market. The second announces a new Federal Reserve System initiative to promote financial education. In the Fed's view, informed consumers who can save, invest and manage credit wisely are a key component of a healthy economy.

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