Despite the fact that it is harder for women to become homeowners than it is for similarly situated men, single women are currently outpacing single men when it comes to homeownership, both here in Chicago and across the country. Homeownership is not only a powerful wealth-generating tool; it also improves the health, educational, and social outcomes for individuals and their children.

To achieve gender equality and to provide children with futures of opportunity, we must take affordable homeownership seriously. Women Build exists to do just that. It’s not just 460 women coming together to build houses – it’s 450 women coming together to build strength, stability, and equality.



Let's first talk about stable, quality, and affordable homeownership and why it matters:


>> A home is typically the largest asset a family will have and its equity increases a family's wealth over time. 

>> An affordable mortgage gives families a predictable, controlled amount for their shelter for decades, as opposed to facing the volatility of rent increases that plague quickly-changing city markets.

>> As of 2013, a typical homeowner's net worth is $195,400, while a typical renter's is $5,400. Given that home prices have risen since then, homeowners' wealth will have grown even more.


>> Poor housing quality is associated with higher baseline symptoms of anxiety, depression, and aggression in children from elementary school through young adulthood.2

>> Families living in quality affordable housing are able to dedicate 2x as much of their income to health, and are significantly less likely to forgo needed doctor's visits and medications.3

>> Renter households with children are more likely to have asthma triggers in their homes than owner households, and are more likely to have at least one child with asthma.4



>> For low-income families, housing affordability is associated with greater spending on child enrichment. It also reduces children's residential instability, which has been associated with increased educational attainment and increased earnings in adulthood.5

>> All other things being equal, children of homeowners do better in school (scoring higher on test scores and lower on anti-social behaviors), and have lower crime and drug usage rates.6


Here's why it's harder for women to become homeowners:

Lower Income and Uneven Care Responsibilities

>> On average, women earn less than men working in year-round, full-time positions in Illinois (78 cents on the dollar and even lower for women of color), and thus do not have the same access to credit and loans.7 This gap results in fewer means for women to acquire quality homes in stable neighborhoods. 

>> As of 2018, 81% of single-parent households in the United States are headed by women.
8 Similarly, regardless of job status, child-care duties, and other related factors, women are twice as likely to be the sole, primary caretaker for an elderly parent or another adult.9 These uneven caregiving responsibilities prevent women from equally investing their time and financial resources into homeownership. 


Higher Mortgage Denials and Mortgage Rates, Despite Superior Payment Performance

>> Due to factors like the gender pay gap, women tend to have higher debt-to-income ratios and worse credit profiles. Typical lenders do not take any offsetting factors into account and single women are thus denied mortgages at higher rates than single men, even though women are more reliable when it comes to paying their mortgages.10

>> When single women are awarded mortgages, they face significantly higher interest rates than single men because of their weaker credit profiles, and are more likely to be given a subprime loan.11


It's Even Harder for Black Women

>> Due to the history of racist practices in our nation, such as redlining, predatory lending, racial covenants, and other government programs, prospective Black homebuyers have had a harder time becoming homeowners because of the color of their skin.

>> Single white women without a college degree have $3,000 more in median wealth than single black women with a college degree. Single white women with a bachelor’s degree have seven times the wealth of their black counterparts, $35,000 and $5,000 in median wealth, respectively. One reason for the wealth gap among college educated single women is that Black women have the highest level of student debt due to racial wealth and income gaps and struggle to pay off the debt in early adulthood despite working full-time.12

>> While single white mothers have a median wealth of $3,000, single Black mothers experience the largest wealth disadvantage with a median wealth of zero – at least half of Black single mothers had no wealth or had debts greater than the value of their assets. Black families have been shut out of wealth opportunities over several generations due to discrimination and lack of investment by policymakers.12



Despite all of these hurdles, single women are outpacing single men when it comes to homeownership.

>> On average, single women own approximately 22% of homes nationwide, compared to 13% owned by single men.13

>> In Chicago, 489,786 homes are owned by single women (21.79%), while 298,153 homes are owned by single men (13.27%).13



It's simple. Together, as a community of 400-women strong, we will:
>> Help more of our sisters become owners of stable, quality, and affordable homes.

>> Help more of our sisters grow their wealth and independence.

>> Help more of our sisters provide futures of opportunity for their children.

>> Help move the needle on gender inequality.


1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lawrenceyun/2016/08/12/why-homeownership-matters/#30715f48480f

2. https://howhousingmatters.org/articles/housing-affects-childrens-outcomes/
3. https://homeforallsmc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Impact-of-Affordable-Housing-on-Families-and-Communities.pdf
4. https://howhousingmatters.org/articles/housing-affects-childrens-outcomes/
5. https://howhousingmatters.org/articles/even-as-american-dream-changes-housing-central-to-economy/https://howhousingmatters.org/articles/education-future-earnings-harmed-by-middle-childhood-moves/
6. https://www.habitatchicago.org/chicago-model/why
7.  https://www.aauw.org/resource/gender-pay-gap-by-state-and-congressional-district/
8. https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics
9. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/daughters-tend-to-aging-parents-more-often-than-sons-but-some-are-seeking-a-change/2014/12/05/b593f554-74ee-11e4-9d9b-86d397daad27_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4f0cff1bd19a
10. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/were-still-shortchanging-women-when-it-comes-mortgages
11. https://consumerfed.org/elements/www.consumerfed.org/file/housing/WomenPrimeTargetsStudy120606.pd
12. http://www.insightcced.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/January2017_ResearchBriefSeries_WomenRaceWealth-Volume1-Pages-1.pdf
13. https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/homeownership-gender-gap-study/