Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Women are Hard Hit Victims of the Mortgage Crisis

By: Ellen Frick, Outreach Coordinator, NHS of Baltimore

Everyone is hurting in this economy but some groups of people are affected more than others. One of these groups is women. Women have made tremendous financial and investment gains over the last few decades. For instance, single women now make up a greater percentage of homebuyers than single men. Despite these gains, women are also some of the most vulnerable when it comes to economic stability. Here at NHS of Baltimore, 77 percent are women. and of those 77 percent, the majority are single heads of household, homeowners.

Issues such as these were recently discussed at the Maryland Commission for Women's (MCW) 2009 Empowering Women in this Economy Symposium. The event, held earlier this month at Prince George’s Community College, included speakers such as U.S. Representative Donna Edwards and Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation, Sarah Bloom Raskin.

It is important to discuss womens' role in this economy because discrimination, both explicit and covert, places females at a disadvantage. Today women still earn far less money than men for the same types of work. Concerning the mortgage crisis, the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW) found that women are 32 percent more likely to receive sub-prime mortgages despite having slightly higher credit scores overall than men.

The national study, Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It, reveals even more shocking statistics. The study notes that while mothers have increased their presence in the workforce, similar gains have not been made in access to affordable child care. This is one reason why mothers, especially single mothers, are continually vulnerable when economic conditions are poor.

Another statistic from the research explains that 37 percent of families headed by single mothers were considered poor in 2008; it is estimated that the 2009 figures could be closer to 45 percent. Furthermore, the study found that African American and Latina women are among the groups most negatively impacted in economic crisis. More than encountering discrimination with loans, there are many ripple effects that women must face when it comes to economic stability. Furthermore, women are most often the primary care providers of children, and therefore healthcare and child care factors must be taken into account.

We cannot let the economic gains made by women in the last few decades dissipate because of the financial crisis. The National Council for Research on Women suggests writing to your representative about womens' issues or simply starting a discussion with friends and neighbors. In thinking about ways to combat and alleviate issues due to the economic crisis, we need to have solutions that are catered towards the interests and needs of women.

To learn more about gender disparity and discrimination in home mortgage lending click here.

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