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MomsRising is a million member grassroots organization working to achieve family economic security, to help all children have a healthy start in life, and to end discrimination against mothers. Mothers in American continue to be discriminated against in hiring, wages and housing. In response to recent press coverage on housing discrimination and investigations being launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, MomsRising put out an invitation for mothers who feel that they had been discriminated against in housing matters to write us with their stories. In two weeks, we received over 100 submissions. The following are ten of these stories that describe the range of housing discrimination mothers and families experience in our country.


My husband and I were denied a home loan last year due to my being on maternity leave. It was a tremendously frustrating experience, as I was employed and on a federally protected leave; though was told that in the eyes of the lender, I was unemployed. Olivia, California


When I called a real estate agent in Cambridge and mentioned that I had a one-year-old, they hung up on me. The rental market in the Boston area is especially difficult for parents of young children because most of the housing stock has not been de-leaded, and families with children under five can only live in certified de-leaded housing. Technically, an owner is supposed to de-lead the house for the family. In reality, they simply refuse to rent to young families. Crystal, Massachusetts


My ex-husband and I were looking to rent a house in Ashland, WI. At the time I had two children. The house was beautiful and we told the owners that we would like to rent the three bedroom home from them. They took our rental application and called us back that same evening and said that they would love us to rent from them. We were sooo excited! I wanted to show off our new place to my sister and my children, so we set up a time to meet the owners the next day. My sister brought her son with and I brought my son who at the time was 4 and my daughter who was 3. They were so excited to see their new soon to be home and we were excited to show them! Well, the tour of the house went well, so I thought. My sister loved it and so did the kids. We got home that evening and received a phone call from our soon to be new landlords telling us that they no longer wanted us to rent their home because they felt that our children were "unruly". I was so MAD, HURT, DISGUSTED, INSULTED and every other word that relates to them judging my precious children the way they did. All they were doing was being children that were curious and exploring the new place that we THOUGHT would be home. Needless to say, we had already called the people that we were renting from and told them that we would be moving. Thank god that they understood when we called them back the next day and told them that we still needed to rent the house. Who wants landlords like that anyway...maybe that happened for a reason. Who knows. But, what they did to us was WRONG! Salena, Wisconsin


My husband, son and I moved back to NY in May of this year (2010). It took us until mid July to find an apartment due to the extreme amount of discrimination we faced in attempting to find an apartment with a toddler in tow. I can't even count the number of times I was hung up on as soon as I mentioned we had a toddler, and we saw multiple apartments where we showed interest, only to be informed that the landlord did not want to rent to a family with children. It's hard enough being a working class, native New Yorker in a city where landlords only want to rent to "professionals", but then to also be discriminated against based on our familial status was disgusting. Christina, NY


I am a professional and I have a great job that makes pretty good money. I filled out an application to rent a four bedroom two bath home. It was a very nice home and I was confident that I would be able to rent this fabulous home for me and my three kids. Not only did I have a great job, but I also receive child support. I went ahead and attached my first, last and deposit check to my application. The rental people ran my credit and were "amazed" at my great credit. I was then told, "Since you are a single mother, we don't think you can afford this house. Maybe you should look at something smaller." I asked for my check back and I will never apply for a rental through these people again. I ended up renting a place for a little more money that I am in today. Discrimination! Dana, Oregon


When I was looking for my first apartment after my divorce, I had a one-year-old son along with me and I had two people tell me that they wouldn't rent to me because I had a child of that age. TWO! The first guy claimed it was because he had an elderly person in the building and the other just said "kids tear up everything" like my precious son was a pet or something. Mary, Ohio


In 1996 we had to threaten the Veteran's Administration with legal action. They were refusing the home loan because I have children with disabilities. At, one point a VA representative told me that no matter what she would not give me the loan because my children were disabled. I eventually got the loan because I had a lawyer from Judge Advocate General's office (military lawyers) let them know he would report them to Congress. It took us seven months to finally get the loan. Every single stumbling block you can imagine was thrown our way, to include a brand new home failing inspection, lost paperwork, needing extra notarized copies of documents. Theresa, Georgia


I was pre-approved for a loan prior to house hunting. The night before I closed on my home the underwriter determined that I was a risk because I was a single mother with two children and two jobs. I have worked two jobs my entire adult life. The bank had documentation supporting a history of two jobs. Every home purchase is a domino effect. There was an attorney involved in one of the homes up the chain and he contacted the underwriter to inform her that he would take my discrimination case pro-bono and she backed down. I got my home, it just took a few extra days. That was 18 years ago. I'm still working two jobs. My children are in college and I've never missed a mortgage payment. Felicia, Kansas


I have definitely experienced this type of discrimination while looking for a place to live. When my boyfriend and I broke up, I moved out and I looked for eight months for an apartment, despite having a good, stable job as a college librarian, excellent references and being in my early 40's. I was told at least six times that I can remember that the landlord in question would not rent to me with a child, because of noise, "safety" issues, etc. I had landlords rescind housing offers once they realized I had a child, and I had people who initially appeared very enthusiastic about showing me their rental unit, refuse to show it to me once they found out I had a three-year-old child. It was an extremely demoralizing experience, and very disillusioning. And I started to feel desperate about my situation. I had the money for a deposit in the bank, I had never been late on rent, I am very quiet and considerate, and yet I was completely undesirable because I was a single mother. I feel very fortunate to have finally found my current landlords, who have been great and very understanding. Kerry, California


When my husband and I went to apply for a mortgage we chose Wells Fargo because that was our bank at the time. To qualify for our mortgage, Wells Fargo told us we had to write a “motivational letter” explaining why we wanted the house, and discussing, among other things, our family planning. After asking two separate Wells Fargo mortgage reps to be excused from this aspect of the process (and being refused), and after telling them I thought it was illegal (they didn’t seem to care) I was inspired to write a satirical letter to Wells Fargo about “what was brewing in my uterus” that I’ve published on a blog and shared with friends. Of course this is NOT the actual letter we sent to Wells Fargo- I didn’t think they would have a sense of humor about the whole thing, and we really needed the new house, having sold our old one at that point so we wrote them a very bland letter stating, among other things, that we did not plan to change our family size. We got the loan, and after it was good and closed I filed a Fair Housing Act complaint with HUD, who is currently investigating, not only this claim, but apparently lots of others involving various lenders charged with lending discrimination. I took a lot of satisfaction in writing the letter – and it got a lot of laughs from my friends and family. But the truth is that I felt genuinely humiliated and demeaned to have to discuss, with a total stranger, whether my husband and I were going to have more children or not. I didn’t then, and don’t now, think it’s any of their business. In addition to the illegality issue, it’s just icky. Would you want to talk about your own reproductive plans with a stranger, especially one who was going to judge whether they were “acceptable” or not? Linda, Pennsylvania

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