Membership in the FHLBank System is available to insured depositories and certain other financial institutions. As of December 31, 2016, total membership was 7,125, comprised of 4,520 commercial banks, 1,389 credit unions, 778 thrifts, 393 insurance companies, and 45 community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Each member is a shareholder in one of the regional FHLBanks, which are privately capitalized, separate corporate entities operating in a cooperative structure.
FHLBank loan products and services are highly valued, particularly by a large percentage of current members that qualify as "Community Financial Institutions" as defined by the FHLBank Act. For these institutions, there is often no other source of funds that is both cost-effective and reliable. At any given time, a substantial majority of the membership is using FHLBank loans to make a difference in their communities.
"In our opinion, within the U.S. housing finance policy framework, the FHLB System has a critical public-policy role, as one of the most important national liquidity providers to U.S. mortgage lenders, particularly during stressful conditions, when private-sector liquidity often proves unreliable. We believe the critical nature of this role was clearly demonstrated in the U.S. mortgage crisis of 2008, during which advances (loans to client-owner members) outstanding peaked at $1 trillion. Since then, with the ebb in financial stress, advances have declined as member institutions regained access to alternative funding sources for mortgages, particularly deposits. In addition, the system provides some support for affordable housing and community investment programs."
Standard & Poor's, October 2015