Our Community Reinvestment philosophy is centered on three basic areas: acceptable quality of life, small business lending and financial education. East West Bank is examined under the Interagency Large Institution Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Procedures.
We were originally founded to help those without existing banking relationships and to assist new immigrants establish themselves financially. Today, this effort remains a primary focus of East West Bank. We have continually offered special programs to people with little or no credit history. Since 1995, East West Bank’s business emphasis has shifted to commercial lending, but we continue to extend loans to individuals and small- to medium-sized businesses, which are the best direct CRA-qualifying lending opportunities in our assessment areas. Although East West Bank makes every effort to provide credit within our assessment areas, community development projects that have a statewide reach within California are also given consideration.
The following are our “focus areas” for all assessment areas, subject to regular review and revision:
- Community development and redevelopment lending opportunities such as:
- Affordable multi-family housing financing.
- Projects with direct economic benefit in low- and moderate-income areas.
- Construction financing for affordable rental or ownership housing developments.
- Loans to businesses located within established enterprise, empowerment, revitalization or redevelopment zones.
- Small business loans (as defined by the CRA) are made through our commercial lending teams and branch network. In addition, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are offered through our SBA lending department.
- We will continue our home mortgage lending efforts, although this is not a significant part of our loan portfolio.
Promoting Economic Growth
We support many programs that create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the communities we serve.
For example, our participation in the Massachusetts Treasurer’s Small Business Banking Partnership includes our commitment to utilize $10 million in cash deposits from the Massachusetts Treasury to lend to small businesses in the New England region. Under this program, East West Bank has fully utilized the state funds to provide 44 loans to the region’s small business community. Further, as a participating lender in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Short Term Lending Program (STLP), our New England region enables small businesses to gain access to the financing they need to participate in transportation-related contracts.
In addition to the our existing loan programs, a new Short-Term Lending Program (STLP) has been implemented to provide working capital financing to contractors and sub-contractors under the United States of Department of Transportation (US DOT) transportation-related contracts. These small business lending programs provide fair and equal opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses.
These are just two examples of how we partner with government agencies and our local communities to provide fair and equal lending opportunities for small businesses, including many business that are minority-owned and/or women-owned.
For more information on these programs, please contact our Newton, Massachusetts office at 617.340.8317 or visit these websites:
Because of our expertise and local knowledge of housing markets and needs, East West Bank has identified housing as the primary area where we can make the greatest impact in bringing an acceptable quality of life to the communities in which we invest. We also provide lending to small businesses and support financial education as part of or CRA investment focus.
When evaluating competing investment opportunities, we consider the purpose of the investment; the level of innovation or complexity; the degree to which the investments are not routinely provided by other private investors; and the impact of the investments in responding to identified community development needs.
Our primary investment focus includes:
Mortgage Backed Securities
We believe that the availability of financing at fair rates for housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods remains a critical community need. Mortgage backed securities have a direct positive impact on the community when the purchases increase the amount of financing available. For this reason, we work directly with Fannie Mae and similar agencies that are chartered to help increase homeownership. Purchasing securities directly from these entities frees up capital on their balance sheets to provide more financing in low- and moderate-income areas. We believe that security purchases from other banks or through brokers have less of an impact on increasing home ownership because they are merely trading already-issued securities and do not provide assurance that the seller will replace the securities by providing new financing in low- to moderate-income areas.
Affordable Housing Tax Credit Investments
We are an active lender in financing the construction of affordable housing through the use of tax credits. We are one of the few banks of our size active in this area and has developed a successful market niche in financing smaller unit projects (under $25 million) that larger banks consider too small and complex in analysis and monitoring to be worth their attention. We have used our expertise to make direct investments in this area because these projects are an extremely effective way to create high quality affordable rental housing.
Other investments we may consider:
- Housing finance bonds targeted to low- and moderate-income communities
- Investments in Community Development Corporations
- Investments in Small Business Development Corporations
- Investments in New Market Tax Credits
- Municipal redevelopment bonds targeted to low- and moderate-income communities
- Investments or deposits in Community Development Financial Institutions
- Purchases of multifamily affordable housing revenue bonds
Further, our investment strategy includes a targeted charitable giving program, which focuses on supporting local organizations in low- and moderate-income communities and in other communities throughout our assessment areas that:
- Provide and/or promote homeownership programs
- Offer health, financial, cultural and educational programs
- Offer leadership development programs to youths and adults
- Provide skill or vocational training programs
- Offer business management programs to small business owners
- Promote economic growth and employment in the local community
- Focus on assisting new immigrants with their credit needs
Our community service strategy is centered on bringing an acceptable quality of life to the communities we serve. Our primary objective is to enable low- and moderate-income individuals and their communities to grow into sustainable, desirable, more culturally integrated and more comfortably managed lifestyles and environments. We do this through financial education, small business lending and by supporting community organizations that are making a positive social impact.
As part of our ongoing CRA service goals to assist low- and moderate-income individuals and continually assess the credit needs of our local communities, East West Bank provides multi-lingual banking services in English, Spanish, and Chinese, accessible through convenient delivery channels such as ATMs, online banking and 24-hour telephone banking. We offer extended banking hours at most of our branches and through our in-store branch network, provide banking services seven days a week. We also offer products such as free checking, low-fee remittances, low-doc and no-doc mortgages, and a secured credit card program to further meet the financial needs of our local communities.
Among our other qualified community service activities are:
- Participating on advisory boards and committees in support of community development—sharing our expertise in credit, loan review, fundraising, civic leadership and other impactful community activities.
- Providing technical assistance on financial matters to small businesses or community development organizations; providing education and training for financial access, including home ownership counseling, financial planning, and small business lending.