Thursday, June 23, 2011

Housing Discrimination and Moms

For a country that seems to constantly tout "family values" including valuing life and children, our society sure does a crappy job at ensuring caregivers and children are actually protected and given the basic opportunities to thrive.

Even simple things like making sure that changing tables are in public restrooms, for women and men, isn't widely enforced. Also, in some states (Texas is one of them last I checked) it is ILLEGAL for a woman to breastfeed in a public place.

Don't even get me started on the Republican stance on Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program, SCHIP.   Programs like these provide a safety net for those who are most vulnerable in our society, but they've become political issues to be used as bargaining chips in Congress.

Earlier I was browsing the MomsRising website and saw a post on Housing Discrimination against moms. This just blew me away, especially since we are house shopping right now: “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.”  

Although such discrimination is illegal under the Fair Housing Act, landlords and lenders still get away with denying housing to moms and pregnant women.  

To help guide moms, moms-to-be, and caregivers through the laws in place, MomsRising worked with HUD to develop an overview on our rights:

It’s illegal for a bank or mortgage company to deny a mother a home loan, to delay her loan, or to require a co-signer for the following reasons:
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You are a single mom
  • You are on maternity leave or are on short-term disability leave
  • You or a family member is a person of color

It’s illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a mother for the following reasons: 
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You are a single mom
  • You have a baby, child or teenagers (Or you have “too many children.”)
  • You have a disabled or special needs child
  • You or a family member is a person of color
  • The apartment has lead-based paint (Landlords are responsible for lead abatement before an apartment is put up for rent.)

If you feel you have been discriminated against in anything related to housing, you can contact HUD for assistance: call 800-669-9777 or go to their web site.   

I'm so glad that there are organizations like MomsRising that work to make sure women and children are protected--and they raise awareness about important issues that are so often pushed aside.

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