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Ownership gap for single parents

August 01, 2004|Diane Wedner | Times Staff Writer

Although the number of unmarried women who own homes has increased dramatically over the last two decades, a wide homeownership gap between single men and single women with children persists.

A 2001 Freddie Mac survey of home buyers revealed that 69% of single men with children owned homes, compared with 45% of their female counterparts.

Tonya Jackson, vice president of customer care at Freddie Mac, attributes the gap to income disparities between men and women and lack of knowledge about credit.

Median earnings nationwide for men in 2002, for example, were $35,345 a year, compared with women's median earnings of $25,862, according to the Women's Mortgage Industry Network.

Women who make up the working poor -- about 23% of women live below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census -- struggle to find suitable housing, said Avis Jones-DeWeever, a director at the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington.

Limited to jobs with no benefits, sick leave, health insurance or child care, many low-income working women spend up to two-thirds of their take-home pay on housing, leaving little for child care, Jones-DeWeever said.

"It's amazing to me how these families make ends meet," Jones-DeWeever said. "Housing takes up so much of their income, there's not much left for what families need to survive."

Nor is relief in sight. As the federal deficit expands, calls to cut spending on housing programs are growing, according to a report by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. At the same time, the demand for and costs of these programs are increasing.

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