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'It's a phenomenal opportunity' | Here's how you can help Black single moms this holiday season

The 'Rent For Moms' campaign is geared, specifically, towards helping more than 50 Black single mothers pay rent across the U.S.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — As a Black single mother, Michal Stafford is always striving to make ends meet. 

Stafford has three children. She, along with her children, moved from Oakland to Elk Grove for a lower cost of living in California.

"It has been a very difficult road," said Stafford. "There's very little quality of life if you're trying to maintain a household of children and do it all on your own."

Now, Stafford is renting a house with her sister for $2,700 a month. She says she splits the rent with her sister, who also has children. Together, at least seven people live in the home in Sacramento County.

"Financially, it really is the only option," said Stafford. "Being a single mom, it's really hard to live alone, or even afford the basic essentials. I've been to food banks. I've stood in those lines before. The cost to house, just the rent alone, I cannot manage on my own. But I always definitely prioritize rent first."

Although Stafford works a full-time remote job, she says she's still forced to decide between paying household bills or putting food on the table at times. Despite relocating, Stafford says rent remains the biggest expense. Research shows she's not alone.

Credit: Michal Stafford

In California, women — particularly Black single mothers —  are disproportionately burdened by the high cost of living, according to a report from Gender Equity Policy Institute (GEPI). It's a nonprofit "dedicated to advancing opportunity, fairness, and well-being for all people through research and education that exposes the gender impacts of the policies, processes, and practices of government and business."

The GEPI report released earlier this year shows 59% of Black women and 42% of Black single mothers struggle to pay for housing in California and they spend the majority of their income on rent.

Some other key findings in the report regarding gender and housing across the state include:

  • 49% of women are rent burdened, compared to 43% of men.
  • 25% of women are severely rent burdened, compared to 20% of men.
  • 33% of Black women are severely rent burdened.
  • 66% of women who live alone are rent burdened.
  • Women-headed households are 5x as likely as households headed by a married couple to be extremely low-income.
  • 73% of single mothers are rent burdened, compared to just 56% of single fathers.
  • 1/3 of elderly Black and Latina women living alone have income below the federal poverty line.
  • 4 in 10 of the 232,000 unhoused individuals in California are women.

When it comes to California's housing affordability crisis, along with racial disparities in housing, the report explains "Black women in California face particularly acute housing challenges due to current discrimination, as well as the legacies of past racial and gender discrimination."

The GEPI report goes on, explaining "a long history of racial discrimination in the housing market, from restrictive covenants and redlining to the destruction of Black neighborhoods to make way for highways and other infrastructure, effectively destroyed the ability of many Black women to accumulate generational wealth through homeownership."

Black Lives Matter, Sacramento Chapter, along with other Black-led organizations, are working to help Black single mothers during the holiday season pay for rent. It's all part of a nationwide campaign called "Rent For Moms."

The nonprofit, Done for DiDi, started the online fundraiser in Boston to help encourage others to give. The campaign kicked off on Giving Tuesday right after Thanksgiving.

The goal is to raise at least $100,000 by Dec. 25. As of Monday, the campaign has raised more than $47,000 so far.

"We need to take care of the moms, that way the moms can take care of the rest of the family," said Tanya Faison, Founder of Black Lives Matter, Sacramento. "It's a foundational resolution to the issues and what's happening. There are so many disparities for Black women, like wage gaps, discrimination with housing, discrimination with jobs, and other things that impact Black women. So, we want to make sure that they are taken care of."

The Rent For Moms campaign is geared specifically towards helping more than 50 Black single mothers pay rent across the U.S. That includes families in Boston, Binghamton, Detroit, Fort Lee, Oklahoma City, Portland, Richmond, Sacramento, Houston, Fort Worth, and Washington, DC.

Credit: Done For DiDi

In 2020, the campaign raised $37,420 to help mothers across the country pay rent.

"It helps to give to someone, to relieve some of those stresses that happen every month, and to know that you got it covered and keep a roof over your head," said Faison.

Stafford, who learned about the 'Rent For Moms' campaign through Black Lives Matter Sacramento, is encouraging all people to give, if possible. Even though she's in need this holiday season, she says she's willing to step aside to ensure other Black single mothers receive the gift of 'rent' and secure housing.

"I think it's a phenomenal opportunity for all single moms, especially Black women," said Stafford. "A lot of moms and parents in general are stressing about being able to provide for their children during this time. The only way to combat it is in community, family spaces, loving on each other, and gifting to one another."

To donate to the online Rent For Moms campaign, visit the donation page

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