MomsRising Lauds Settlement in Case Involving Pregnancy Discrimination in Mortgage Lending
June 1, 2011
MomsRising Joins HUD for Settlement Announcement
NEW YORK – MomsRising joined the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this afternoon at a news conference announcing a settlement agreement with a mortgage company that discriminated in home loans against new and expecting mothers. MomsRising.org, an online and on-the-ground grassroots organization that supports family-friendly policies, has been working to shed light on the issue since the discriminatory lending practices were revealed last year.
“We are pleased and encouraged by this settlement,” said MomsRising Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. “No need is more basic than the need to shelter our families, and home loan discrimination against mothers is illegal and unacceptable. HUD vowed last year to take this issue seriously, and we applaud them for making good on their work and vigorously enforcing fair housing laws.”
Last July the New York Times ran a story about Elizabeth Budde, a Washington state doctor who had been approved for a home loan but then had her loan revoked after a loan officer learned she was on maternity leave with her newborn baby. On the same day the article was published, HUD issued a press release stating the agency would investigate the lending practices of certain mortgage lenders to determine if they were following the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, familial status or disability.
The settlement announced today compensates Budde and up to 100 other women who experienced discrimination from Cornerstone Mortgage Company. Longtime MomsRising member Emma Cooper-Serber delivered remarks at the press conference announcing the agreement.
“In 2011, women have many opportunities and owning a home is one of these opportunities. Women who choose to become mothers shouldn’t have to face housing or lending discrimination while seeking to purchase a home, because of their maternity status,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is pleased to have organizations like MomsRising and others as our partners to ensure that the fair housing rights of women and families seeking housing are not violated.”
Since the issue first came to light, MomsRising has been working to raise awareness about women’s and mother’s housing rights and to help identify what housing discrimination looks like. MomsRising collected more than 200 stories from women who have experienced housing discrimination, through social media alerts and emails to its members around the country. Among them were:
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
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… 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 2 jobs. My children are in college and I've never missed a mortgage payment.
- Felicia, Kansas
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 one, 3 year old child. It was an extremely demoralizing experience, and very disillusioning.
- Kerry, California
“This is an important issue and one we intended to continue working on,” Rowe-Finkbeiner added. “It is every bit as important to stop discrimination in housing as it is to stop discrimination in wages, pay, promotions, education and other aspects of our lives.”