Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Proposed HUD Rule Forces Immigrant Families to Separate or Face Homelessness

In a move that members of Congress are calling “cruel,” “disturbing,” and “deeply flawed,” the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing to deny federal housing assistance to immigrant families with a mix of citizen and non-citizen members. This change will effectively force thousands of immigrant families out of federal housing assistance programs—with no financial benefit to HUD and likely negative implications for millions of other U.S. citizens depending on HUD for assistance.

The current HUD rule allows a U.S.-born child living with her non-citizen parents to receive federal housing assistance (such as a Section 8 voucher). HUD’s financial assistance to the family is pro-rated so as to exclude assistance to the non-eligible family member(s). The current rule thus promotes family unity while actively preventing homelessness.

HUD’s proposed rule change would instead make anyone living in a “mixed-status” household ineligible for assistance. Of the roughly 25,000 families that would be affected by this change, 76% consist of families with a parent or child who is not eligible for assistance. And every affected family will have to make the same gut-wrenching decision: separate or lose their housing assistance altogether. Like Trump’s decried policy of separating families at the U.S. border, HUD’s proposed rule operates on the expectation that families will choose to suffer together rather than be split apart.

The stated reasons for this change simply do not justify the confusion, fear, and harm that will be inflicted on immigrant families and communities across the U.S. The proposed rule denies assistance to U.S. citizens and legal residents, including 55,000 children. In addition, eliminating a few thousand “mixed-status” families will do nothing to generate more affordable housing or to reduce the millions of names currently on waitlists for housing assistance.

In fact, HUD admits that “perhaps the likeliest scenario” of the added cost of the rule change (since mixed-status families cost less to house than a comparable family of all-citizen members) would be that HUD would have to “reduce the quantity and quality of assisted housing.” HUD would do this by decreasing the number of housing vouchers and reducing the quality of maintenance services for public housing. HUD predicts this could result in “deterioration of the [public housing] units that could lead to vacancy.”

Earlier today, Texas Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia introduced H.R. 2716 to block the proposed rule. Legal Aid adds its voice to the growing number of legislators, advocates, and citizens decrying HUD’s cruel and senseless proposal. You can help by spreading the message to #keepfamiliestogether, supporting H.R. 2716 and the members of Congress who have called HUD out on its hypocrisy, and submitting your comments opposing the rule by July 9.

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