The National Community Reinvestment Coalition wants the Federal Home Loan Bank system to subsidize small-business lending in low-income areas.
John Taylor, the coalition's president, is promoting an initiative that would parallel the Home Loan Bank System's Affordable Housing Program, which provides seed money for low-income housing projects.
"Today the majority of system members are commercial banks, which know how to make small-business loans," Mr. Taylor said. "The Home Loan Banks should address what is probably the most seriously underserved credit need: small-business lending."
While officials at the Federal Housing Finance Board, which oversees the system, said they currently are not working on such a proposal, they are open to the idea.
"We'll look at anything that helps with community development," said Rita Fair, the finance board's managing director.