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Last week The New York Times profiled the story of Elizabeth Budde, a Washington State doctor who'd been approved for a home loan but then had her home loan revoked after a loan officer learned she was on maternity leave with her newborn baby. [1]

“The reason we were buying the house was because we were having a baby,” said Dr. Budde. “And now we got punished for having a baby.”

Disturbingly, it appears that such loan discrimination against new mothers may be all too common.  The New York Times article quoted the president of a mortgage company who remarked:  “Maternity leave or any other leave of absence often prevents a person from obtaining a mortgage.”

We’re outraged!  Thankfully, folks at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (which enforces the Fair Housing Act) seem to feel similarly.  On the same day that the article came out, HUD issued a press release stating that they would investigate the lending practices of certain mortgage lenders “to determine if they illegally denied families mortgages because the mother is pregnant or a family member is experiencing a short-term disability.” [2]


Let HUD know we support them in investigating housing discrimination against mothers--and urge HUD to keep up this important work to protect American families!

All too often pregnant women and mothers are discriminated against in jobs, housing and loans, just when they need financial security the most.

According to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, "Lenders have every right to ascertain the incomes of families to determine whether they are eligible for a mortgage loan but they have no right to use a pregnancy or a short-term disability as a cause to deny that family a mortgage they would otherwise qualify for. Having a child should be a time for a family to celebrate and must not be a cause for unfair lending practices."

Women of color may face double illegal obstacles according to John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.  In an email to MomsRising he wrote that "On top of the racial disparities that exist to obtain a home loan, we now see potential loan denials based on being on maternity leave.  HUD will work vigorously to enforce fair housing laws on behalf of families with children as well as people of all races and ethnicities."

HUD’s commitment to investigate housing loan discrimination is a welcome beginning to what hopefully will be a more comprehensive effort on the part of our government to combat pregnancy and family responsibility discrimination in all settings, for all women.

Sign the letter to HUD now to send a strong message that we support their investigation into discriminatory home lending practices.

And please also take a moment to forward this to your friends and co-workers.  We need all of our voices together to make sure mothers, fathers, and anyone who cares for our country’s children are treated fairly.

PS:  If you feel you’ve been discriminated against in any form of housing (as a renter, owner, or in trying to get a loan, etc.) due to being pregnant or having children, please share your story with us now.  Momsrising will compile these stories and send them to HUD and the media.  Send us your story

[1] Bernard, Tara Siegel "Need a Mortgage? Don’t Get Pregnant," The New York Times, July, 20 2010

[2] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development "Hud To Investigate Mortgage Lenders Who Discriminate Against Expectant Mothers And New Parents" July 21, 2010

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