HUD’s plan to cut off housing assistance to undocumented immigrants is cruel and vindictive

May 1, 2019 | National

In its latest attempt to undermine the safety net and intimidate immigrant families, the Trump administration plans to inspect the immigration status of every member of families applying for housing assistance, even members who declare themselves ineligible for assistance during the application process.

Under existing law, families with mixed immigration status are allowed to receive some federal housing assistance and still live together. Family members who are ineligible for assistance due to immigration status may simply declare themselves so and HUD will reduce the family’s benefit accordingly. HUD doesn’t track those ineligible individuals.

In other words, the existing system works fairly and humanely and that doesn’t sit well with the President or HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

The administration’s proposed rule would deny housing assistance to families with even a single undocumented member, regardless of whether that member is claiming or receiving any benefits. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition estimates that 25,000 mixed-status households either live in public housing units or receive rental assistance vouchers. Though the effect would not be immediate, those families would eventually lose their housing assistance and potentially, by extension, their homes.

The government says they’re doing this to ease pressure on the waiting list for housing assistance. That’s a lie. There are millions of families on HUD’s waiting lists according to a 2016 study; this proposed rule would devastate thousands of mixed-status families but it would hardly make a dent on the waiting list.

If the administration were truly interested in moving families off the waiting list, they could propose constructive solutions such as increased funding for new housing vouchers. In reality, their FY2020 budget request called for an 18 percent cut to the HUD budget, eliminated crucial affordable housing programs, and proposed higher rents and work requirements on recipients of housing assistance.

Rather, this proposed rule fits into a pattern of actions taken specifically to marginalize and harm immigrant families that include the separation of children at the border and the interior, the proposed “public charge” rule and the effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register imminently, beginning a 60-day public comment period. The administration must hear the truth about this proposal: It’s cruel, vindictive and unrelated to the goal of providing stable, affordable housing for everyone in America.