The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) submitted a proposed rule to evict all undocumented immigrants from public housing to the federal register Friday, setting in motion the first step towards finalizing a plan that could impact tens of thousands of undocumented parents and their U.S. citizen children.
Under this proposed rule, HUD would be prohibited from “making financial assistance available to persons other than United States citizens.” The current rule allows for mixed-status families — where members have different citizenship and immigration statuses — to receive housing assistance as long as one person is eligible. In return, the family’s subsidy is prorated to account for the eligible residents.
HUD and immigration advocacy groups have estimated that there are 25,000 families of mixed-immigration status that receive housing assistance, the majority of whom live in New York, California, and Texas.
Under this new rule, however, every single member of a household must be of “eligible immigration status.” An undocumented parent will no longer be able to a sign a subsidized housing lease even if their child is a U.S. citizen or legal resident. According to HUD’s own analysis, first reported by the Washington Post, more than 55,000 children could be displaced by the plan — all of whom are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
This is far from the first time immigrant communities have been targeted by President Donald Trump for using government assistance programs. The administration is considering a proposal to make it easier to deport any immigrant deemed a “public charge” — including legal permanent residents — for using public assistance programs like SNAP or Medicaid.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson claimed last month the rule change is necessary to “make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it.” Housing experts, however, are unconvinced, especially considering the fact that HUD’s own analysis concluded that half of the public housing population facing eviction under this rule are children legally eligible for assistance.
“HUD falsely claims the change is proposed out of concern for long waiting lists, when they know well that it would do nothing to free up new units,” National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel said in a statement last month, when the proposed rule was first reported. “The true purpose may be part of this Administration’s effort to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country.”
Sunia Zaterman, executive director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, said in statement that the rule change is “an unwarranted attack on low-income immigrant families who are welcome members of the communities served by public housing authorities.”
A mass eviction of undocumented immigrant families could have drastic consequences. A 2016 study by the American Psychological Association examined the “unintended consequences” of zero tolerance public housing policies.
“People who are evicted from any type of housing often have difficult times getting accepted for other types of housing,” the paper notes. “This leads evicted individuals to regularly experience prolonged homelessness.”
Evictions also have significant, derogatory impacts on children. Compared with peers, children with unstable housing “perform worse on standardized tests, have lower school achievement, have delayed literary skills and are more likely to be truant and are more likely to drop out.”
Teens who experience homelessness are at a higher risk of abusing substances, leading to a larger population of adolescents who are homeless having problems with substance abuse.
Now that the rule has been formally introduced in the federal register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments for the record. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, commenting on draft proposals is one way the public can resist Trump administration policies.