Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s role in getting women fair access to mortgage loans paved the way for female homeownership to rise

After buying a condo in southwest suburban Lemont last fall, Brittainy Barattia not only signed her name on the dotted line, but also her marital status.

“When you sign your homeownership paperwork, there are several times when you have to sign the state of your marital status,” she said. “And they have to read it to you, so it would be like, ‘For Brittainy Barattia, a single woman, Brittainy Barattia, a single woman.’ I’m like, ‘Mmm hmm, I get it. My mom gets it, too — she is hearing you right now.’”

Single women in the United States have outpaced single men when it comes to home ownership since the late 1980s, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. But it wasn’t until legal battles and a law guaranteeing equal access to credit passed just a few years earlier that women could buy homes independently.

And among the women who helped make it possible? None other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late U.S. Supreme Court justice, who died last month at 87 after decades of championing gender equality.

“Her strategy has been to chip away at decades and decades of discrimination,” said Wendy Singer, director of education at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. “And she started doing this at a young age, by responding to letters at the New Jersey ACLU and working on one case at a time.”

As a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union in the early 1970s, a 39-year-old Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project, taking on hundreds of gender discrimination cases. Many focused on financial issues, while some turned to inequality that men faced, building on a landmark case she argued that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause prohibits discrimination based on any gender.

“Her strategy was to focus on equality for all,” Singer said. “So she would fight cases where men weren’t receiving the same benefits as women.”

At the Skokie-based museum, the exhibit “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” focuses on the feminist icon’s career, as well as her life as a working mother in a male-dominated field.

“She was a mom, she was a woman, she was Jewish; all of those things were against her when she was a young lawyer coming out of the gate,” Singer said. “She persevered, and she did it in a way that was authentic and effective.”

These victories helped carve out space for breakthroughs in financial equality for women, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibits creditors from discriminatory lending practices based on sex and marital status — thanks in no small part to the work of another feminist trailblazer, U.S. Rep Lindy Boggs.

While on the congressional banking committee that reviewed the ECOA before its passage, Boggs added the provision barring discrimination based on sex or marital status without telling her fellow committee members. Later, she told them she assumed it was an omission, and the bill passed unanimously.

Bank of America to offer payday-style loans | Articles

Bank of America will begin to offer small, shortterm loans to cash-strapped customers, the Charlotte-based bank announced earlier this month, a move that could upend the market for short-term loans.

The loans, called Balance Assist, will have a $500 limit, and will only be available to people who have had a checking account at the bank for at least a year. The roll-out will start in a handful of to-be-announced states by January 2021 before expanding to the rest of the country early next year.

The move makes Bank of America — with its tens of millions of customers — one of the biggest financial institutions to have a small-dollar consumer loan.

It’s a space historically dominated by payday lenders and other consumer finance outlets, who gained seedy reputations for their high fees. Regulators have urged banks to get into small-dollar lending for years, and in May issued guidance prodding banks to help consumers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Clients were telling us that they can’t make it quite there from paycheck to paycheck. So, this is a bridge,” said Steve Boland, Bank of America’s retail head, in an interview. The bank wanted all of its customers to do all their banking at the bank, he said, and not with higher-cost alternatives.

Bank of America’s loans — which cost $5 regardless of their size — will be paid back over 90 days inmonthly installments. Customers are only allowed to have one out at a time, and can repay the loan early without penalty.

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Treasury encouraged banks to prioritize PPP loans for existing clients, hurting minority and women-owned small businesses, House report says

  • The Treasury Department privately encouraged banks to prioritize existing clients when implementing the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which provided coronavirus relief to small businesses, according to a report released Friday from a House oversight panel.
  • Limiting PPP lending to existing customers disproportionately hurt minority and women-owned business, the Democratic-led Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said in its report.
  • The reported concluded neither the Treasury nor Small Business Administration offered “meaningful” directives for lenders to prioritize underserved groups, according to financial institutions interviewed by the subcommittee.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump shows a signed Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2020.


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US President Donald Trump shows a signed Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2020.

The Treasury Department privately encouraged banks to prioritize existing clients when implementing the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program that provided coronavirus relief to small businesses, according to a report Friday from a House oversight panel.

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The Trump administration’s directive to favor existing clients in PPP lending decisions disproportionately hurt minority and women-owned business, the Democratic-led Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said in its report.

“As a result, small businesses that were truly in need of financial support during the economic crisis often faced longer waits and more obstacles to receiving PPP funding than larger, wealthier companies,” the congressional panel said in statement. 

Congress established the PPP as a part of the CARES Act, designed to provide forgivable loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations to help them weather the Covid-19 pandemic and preserve jobs. The Small Business Administration relied on banks and other private lenders to process the funds.

Documents obtained by the subcommittee revealed that the Treasury told banks to “go to their existing customer base” when issuing loans, according to an email sent by the CEO of the American Bankers Association, Rob Nichols, to the group’s board of directors on March 28.

“From early on there was an understanding from Treasury that banks were working with existing clients,” Jennifer Roberts, a senior banker from JPMorgan Chase & Co, told the subcommittee in July, according to the report.

Banks and other financial institutions faced challenges in vetting new customers and processing applications in a timely manner during the early rollout of the PPP. The congressional panel found that seven of the eight banks involved in its investigation limited PPP lending to existing customers.

But this tactic hurt underserved groups, the House panel found. Research shows minority and women-owned businesses are less likely to have existing relationships with lenders.

An August report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 41% of Black-owned businesses closed between February and April 2020 — higher than any other demographic group. The New York Fed pointed to “racial disparities in access to federal relief funds,” including “stark PPP coverage gaps.”

In the CARES Act, Congress specified “the Administrator should issue guidance to lenders and agents to ensure that the processing and disbursement of covered loans prioritizes small business