July 18: CRA effects on lending | $26M Newark station makeover | Philly’s media industry

Philadelphia’s Federal Reserve Bank has published new research on the effects of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) on mortgage lending in the city, writes NextCity’s Oscar Perry Abello. In CRA-eligible census tracts, the report explains, banks get credit for loans made in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Abello writes that a 2014 change in median area income calculations caused 104 previously eligible census tracts to lose CRA status, many of which overlapped with Philadelphia’s middle neighborhoods. Researchers found that “CRA-regulated lenders became slower in increasing their lending capacity, staff training, community outreach, or marketing in newly ineligible neighborhoods during the housing recovery,” though the “empirical analysis cannot fully explain the observed differences.” The Fed has provided the full working paper on its website.

The Newark train station’s $26 million makeover broke ground at the SEPTA and Amtrak stop on Monday, WHYY’s Shirley Min reports. Largely funded by a $10 million TIGER IV grant, the improvements include the installation a wheelchair-accessible platform and expanded parking and passenger amenities. Project officials herald the renovation as a “catalyst for economic growth to the region.”

From revitalization to gentrification: Episode 9 of Keystone Crossroad’s Grapple focuses on Hazelwood, a Pittsburgh neighborhood traditionally isolated from the downtown and its neighbors due to lack of public transit access. Hazelwood now faces massive change as the former coke and steel mill gets repurposed for tech research, commercial use, and housing. Residents share their hopes for potential job opportunities as well as fears of displacement.

The Pennsauken Landfill will install 8,000 more solar panels onsite, 6ABC reports. In addition to producing solar energy, the project also harnesses methane gas released by decomposing organic waste, which is then converted to energy at a nearby power plant. The landfill has housed roughly 10,000 solar panels for past ten years, as part of a 13-year partnership between Camden County and Energy Power Partners.

Philadelphia is poised to capture three new segments of media, writes the Philadelphia Citizen’s Diana Lind. Media jobs provide skills that overlap with other industries, Lind argues, creating employment opportunities that are less specialized than the meds, tech, or energy sector, and thus more accessible to the Philadelphia workforce. Lind calls for the city’s commerce department, the Lenfest Institute, and the Chamber of Commerce to actively recruit media companies from New York and further cities like Birmingham as part the city’s business attraction strategy.

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