The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently published a proposal that would prohibit financial assistance to persons other than United States citizens or certain categories of eligible noncitizens in HUD’s public and specified assisted housing programs. The proposed rule changes are intended to prohibit families in which at least one member is undocumented from obtaining subsidized housing. If accepted, this would mean that mixed status families would no longer be allowed in public housing, likely displacing at least 55,000 children and thousands more adults from their homes – most of whom are citizens or legally permitted to live in the US. The rule would also prevent undocumented immigrants from serving as lease holders.
Current rules bar undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies but allow mixed immigration status families to live in subsidized housing as long as one household member is a legal resident of the United States. According to the HUD analysis, more than 108,000 people receiving benefits are living in a household with at least one undocumented immigrant. Although members of a family who are in the US legally would be allowed to stay in their homes, it is unlikely that many would do so in an effort to avoid family separation, such as the displacement of one or both of a child’s parents or guardians.
Since subsidies are distributed based on the number of eligible members of the family, replacing households of mixed status with households with only eligible residents would cost HUD at least $193 million. It is likely that HUD would redirect resources to cover these costs, rather than congress allocating additional funds to make up for the shortfall. Doing so could affect the number of households on the waiting list to receive housing who actually get it. Cutting into the budget for maintenance of units could also further reduce the quality and safety of public housing stock. If the rule goes into effect, undocumented immigrants living in public housing would not be immediately required to vacate, a HUD official said. Those affected would be given up to 18 months, through three six-month waivers, to relocate.
Public comments on the rule are due by July 9th, 2019. For more information on how to submit comments and resources about this proposed rule, please visit the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Housing Law Project’s Keep Families Together campaign at https://www.keep-families-together.org/.