HUD Proposed Rule Would Ban All Undocumented Immigrants from Assisted Housing

On April 17, 2019, the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) sent a proposed rule to Congress that would ban any undocumented immigrant from receiving federal housing assistance. This new rule would prohibit “mixed status families” from receiving assistance in public housing, project-based rental assistance, and Housing Choice Vouchers.

Under current law, housing subsidies of mixed status families are prorated so that undocumented family members do not receive any housing assistance. By providing assistance only to citizens and documented immigrants, the law permits members of mixed status families to reside together.

This proposed rule will prevent undocumented immigrants from living is subsidized housing – even if they are not the primary recipients of the benefit.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has indicated that the proposed rule will ease the long waiting lists for affordable housing – a statement that has absolutely no basis in fact.

The proposed rule has to be published in the Federal Register, followed by a 60-day comment period.

There are many problems with this proposed rule –  not the least of which is that the explanation for the rule lacks credibility. The rule – if enacted – will disrupt existing tenant families and the idea that it will reduce lengthy waiting lists is ludicrous.

Waiting lists are not long because of undocumented immigrants, but because there is not enough affordable housing for those who need it.  Contrary to HUD’s claims, this rule will deny affordable housing to the citizen children of immigrants. This is not about shortening waiting lists – it is simply part of a broad administration strategy to demonize all immigrants.

The cynicism of the proposed rule is obvious to anyone with an understanding of federal housing law and regulation – which does not include HUD Secretary Carson. Every household in subsidized housing must have at least one eligible citizen or legal resident. This rule will serve only to split up families – not to shorten waiting lists.

There is no certainty that this proposed rule will be adopted. It will be strongly opposed by many industry groups and once it becomes clear that the premise behind the proposal is false, objections to the proposal will intensify.