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Last week, we announced a $20,000 settlement, the latest in a series of important HUD enforcement actions across the country to address denials of home loans to women because they are pregnant or on maternity leave. We are able to aggressively pursue this type of discrimination because of organizations like Momrising that work to end discrimination against women and mothers.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Refusing to approve a mortgage loan or provide refinancing because a woman is pregnant or on maternity leave violates the Fair Housing Act’s prohibitions against sex and familial status discrimination.
The couple in this case reported they applied for the mortgage with Land Home Financial Services (LHFS) and received a loan pre-approval letter. However, after the wife gave birth, LHFS required her to return to work and earn a full two-week paycheck by the time escrow closed on the loan. Consequently, in order to obtain the loan, she terminated her maternity leave early and returned to work just 19 days after the birth of her child.
Under the terms of the Conciliation Agreement, LHFS will pay the couple $20,000. LHFS will also ensure that its underwriting polices conform to Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) guidelines with regard to treatment of maternity and pregnancy leave income.
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity has successfully resolved a number of important maternity leave cases in recent years. Momsrising and other community members have been instrumental in getting the word out to parents around the country who have faced different treatment when seeking a loan and often did not realize the treatment they received could be a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
When one mother steps forward, we are able to protect her and her family’s rights as well as other borrowers at the lending institution into the future. And with each case that is publicized, more people learn about the law and discrimination is prevented.
Thanks to organizations like Momsrising and to you and everyone working to get the word out, we are doing more than ever before and, with your help, we will put a stop to maternity leave discrimination.
This blog post is featured on the Moms Rising’s website.