Some people blame a fair-lending law for the mortgage meltdown and the resulting global financial crisis. Evidence shows otherwise. The Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977, requires banks to extend loans where they accept deposits. It was conceived as a way of fighting redlining — the practice of denying loans to residents of minority neighborhoods. Conservatives have periodically criticized the fair-lending law, saying, for example, that it discourages banks from opening branches in poor districts.