Proposed HUD Rule is Latest Attack on Immigrant Families
By Renato Rocha
Last month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a regulation that would directly undermine the wellbeing of immigrant families in low-income households, including citizen children. The proposal would harm “mixed-status” families – households that include both eligible and ineligible people – to break up to continue receiving federally assisted housing or face eviction. The rule could also jeopardize others getting housing assistance who can’t meet new citizenship documentation requirements.
This HUD proposal is part of the Trump Administration’s larger attack on immigrant families. From a proposal to expand the “public charge” test on inadmissibility last fall to a Presidential Memorandum on sponsor liability last month, the administration has made clear its intention to make life more difficult for immigrant families by restricting their access to basic needs programs.
Like these other attacks on immigrants, HUD’s proposed regulation would create a chilling effect by generating mass fear and confusion among immigrant families so that those eligible for programs withdraw from or forgo benefits. The proposed HUD rule would directly harm 25,000 immigrant families, including 55,000 children who are now receiving housing assistance and effect millions of people currently receiving HUD assistance, including elderly and people with disabilities, who are at risk of losing their housing if they cannot meet new citizenship documentation requirements. Moreover, the proposal would not shorten the waiting list for assisted housing, contrary to administration claims, and would actually drive up administrative costs for housing agencies.
The chilling effect would likely be much broader. To illustrate, even though the proposed public charge policy is not in effect, immigrant families are already disenrolling from benefits because they fear immigration-related consequences. For instance, a 2018 survey of health care providers in California revealed that approximately two-thirds of parents reported concerns about enrolling their children in basic needs programs. Further, in the first systemic, national study of the proposed public charge rule’s chilling effects, the Urban Institute recently found that about one in seven adults in immigrant families avoided basic needs programs – such as housing assistance – last year because of green card concerns.
These studies reveal that harsh proposals restricting immigrant access to basic needs programs—despite not yet being in effect—have already done harm. If the proposed HUD rule advances, more immigrant families will avoid basic needs programs, including those that help put a roof over their heads.
Together, we can fight back to block and delay the proposal by submitting public comments, which HUD must take into consideration before finalizing the rule. The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) and National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) are leading the effort to oppose this harmful proposal and have developed advocacy tools for joining the opposition.
CLASP is preparing detailed comments opposing the HUD rule, and we hope you’ll also submit comments. Click here for a template comment from NHLP. In your comment, we encourage you to add your own stories describing why the proposal is harmful. Please make your voice heard before the July 9 deadline. Additional resources can be found at www.keep-families-together.org. You can also submit a comment directly to regulations.gov.