Take Action to Help Mixed Status Immigrant Families Keep their Homes
On May 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposed rule that would prohibit mixed status families from living in public housing and other HUD assisted housing. Mixed status families are households that include both members who are eligible and ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status.
This is yet another attack by the Trump administration to instill fear and uncertainty among immigrants throughout the country. We must work together to counter creation of this oppressive environment by making our voices heard that immigrants are welcome in our nation.
HUD's proposed rule will force families of mixed immigration status to break up to receive housing assistance, to forego the assistance altogether, or face eviction from their homes.
Help us try to stop the proposed rule by telling the Department of Housing and Urban Development you oppose this harmful and cruel proposal that could lead to the eviction of over 100,000 people, including 55,000 children, from HUD assisted housing.
Comments are due by July 9, 2019.
Please personalize your comments. We encourage you to use one or more of the points for specific populations or issues below. Your comment will be directly submitted to regulations.gov.
Additional background resources are available from our national partners on the Keep Families Together Campaign, the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Housing Law Project, by clicking here.
Fair Housing Advocates
Adoption of HUD’s proposed rule directly violates the agency’s statutory obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) mandates that the HUD Secretary shall “administer the programs and activities relating to housing and urban development in a manner affirmatively to further the policies of” the FHA. In its 2015 regulation, HUD defined “Affirmatively further fair housing” to mean “taking meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics.” The affirmatively furthering fair housing obligation also includes “fostering and maintaining compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.”
In 2010, based on U.S. Census data, the Chicago region had the 5th highest combined racial and economic segregation and the 9th highest Latino-white segregation in the nation.
The proposed rule does nothing to advance fair housing aims, or compliance with other civil rights laws. Instead, it seeks to do the exact opposite by denying housing opportunities to thousands of immigrant families, using eligible immigration status as a pretext for discriminating against individuals based on their race and national origin. Furthermore, according to HUD’s own analysis, 70 percent of the households negatively impacted by this proposed rule are families with eligible children. Since minor children comprise the vast majority of eligible occupants of mixed status households, the proposed rule would also have a disproportionate and devastating impact on families with children. This clearly discriminatory policy is wholly inconsistent with HUD’s obligation to combat housing discrimination and segregation.
Homeless Service Providers
The proposed rule is in direct conflict with federal policy priorities of ending homelessness and federal mandates for states to provide certain assistance and programs to everyone. For example, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) has prioritized ending and preventing homelessness among families with children, regardless of immigration status. The proposed rule directly contradicts this policy goal by erecting additional barriers to housing access. Furthermore, the rule is in conflict with the National Affordable Housing Act’s edict to ensure that “every American family be able to afford a decent home in a suitable environment.”
People who lose their housing due to the proposed rule will have a very challenging time time finding housing they can afford. In Illinois, there are just 35 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. Moreover, seventy-two percent of extremely low-income renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing, with little left over for other basic necessities. This puts them on the brink, just one financial setback away from eviction and homelessness.
Although HUD acknowledges the potential costs of homelessness in their Regulatory Impact Analysis, noting that temporary and long-term homelessness is a likely for many families because of the proposed rule, it has not provided a detailed analysis of this economic impact. To fully understand the fiscal consequences of this rule, HUD should complete an in-depth study on these issues before finalizing the proposed rule.
Latinxs face prejudice and discrimination throughout the United States, and many continue to struggle to meet basic needs, including finding a home they can afford.
The proposal to take away critical public or other subsidized housing support from families of mixed immigration status would harm our nation’s Latinx community and future. Access to federal housing assistance has allowed hundreds of thousands of Latinxs to lift themselves out of poverty. While research suggests that Latinos remain underrepresented in these programs, the proposed rule would deter many eligible Latinos participating in public or subsidized housing programs, and increase housing insecurity for Latinx families.
As HUD acknowledges, families that lose housing assistance are at risk of homelessness, with serious consequences for family well-being and child development. When families have access to housing assistance, they have more resources to cover the cost of nutritious foods, health care, and other necessities. Where families live is also directly tied to where they work. If parents lose access to affordable housing, they may also be at risk of losing their jobs.
In Illinois, Latinxs already face significant obstacles securing affordable housing compared to others. For example, according to U.S. Census data for 2016 in Illinois, regardless of income, 42.6% of White, non-Hispanic renter households spent 30% or more of their income on housing. By contrast, 48.4% of Hispanic renter households spent 30% or more of their income on housing.
Asian American Pacific Islanders
The Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is the fastest growing racial group in the United States. Further, AAPIs are one of the fastest growing poverty populations with more than half of all poor AAPIs living in only 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), the majority of which are concentrated in the most expensive markets. Poor AAPIs are already at significant risk of displacement, especially recently emigrated AAPIs who have limited proficiency with English. In fact, poor AAPIs are at twice the risk of displacement relative to the general US poverty population. Further compounding this issue is the fact that many AAPI families live in multigenerational households that include a mix of immigrants and US citizens.
In Illinois, based on U.S. Census data for 2016, 26.2 of AAPI households were severely cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing.
The impact of HUD’s proposed rule, if implemented, would be devastating: the presence of a single ineligible member of a household could lead to disqualification of the entire household, including citizens, children, and the elderly who are eligible for public housing and Section 8 programs.
The proposed rule threatens the health of children, and will effectively evict over 55,000 children who are eligible for the covered housing programs. The changes proposed are specifically designed to force families to make choices that will harm their child’s health. Mixed status families will have to make the excruciating decision to either face eviction or separate as a family in order to retain housing stability. Both options will have lasting impacts on child and family health. Research shows that families who are evicted are more likely to experience homelessness, move into substandard or overcrowded housing, and have a sequence of adverse physical and mental health outcomes. The alternative, family separation, is a stressful and traumatizing experience for children, which can alter the architecture of a child’s developing brain and have lifelong consequences.
In Illinois, 60% of people receiving federal rental assistance are in families with children. Rental assistance helps 263,000 people in families with children in Illinois avoid homelessness.
Housing assistance also improves child health—children of families receiving housing assistance had a 35 percent higher chance of being labeled a “well child,” a 28 percent lower risk of being seriously underweight and a 19 percent lower risk of food insecurity. Access to affordable housing provides stability for families and frees up income for other necessities. Low-income households with children that pay more than half of their monthly income on rent spend considerably less on other basic necessities—they spend $200 less per month on food, nearly $100 less on transportation, and about $80 less on healthcare.
The Aging Population
Federal housing assistance programs provide vital support to 1.9 million older adults who would otherwise be unable to afford the cost of shelter. Seniors with fixed incomes are especially at risk of serious harm if they live in mixed status families and lose rental assistance due to the rule because they have such limited resources to spend on other basic needs, including food, medicine, transportation, and clothing. The proposed rule would also make it impossible for many intergenerational families to live together and share resources that enable them to succeed. It ignores the critical roles many grandparents play in caring for their grandchildren and other family members, as well as the role adult children play in caring for their aging parents and relatives.
In Illinois, 18% of people receiving federal rental assistance are seniors. Overall, federal rental assistance helps 80,600 of Illinois’ seniors age in place.
Many seniors who do not receive rental assistance, such as those who would be evicted if the proposed rule goes into effect, face a significant shortage of affordable rental housing. In Illinois, based on U.S. Census data from 2016, 30% of households with a member aged 65 to 79 are severely cost burdened, paying more than half their income for housing.
Furthermore, the proposed rule adds new documentation requirements that will be particularly burdensome on older adults. The proposed rule will require all U.S. citizens to provide proof of citizenship, and will also require noncitizens 62 years old or over to provide additional documentation of their immigration status. Older individuals face many challenges in getting this kind of documentation, including difficulties getting to government offices to replace lost records, coming up with the funds to replace these records, and some may have never been issued these documents in the first place.
Public Health and Education Advocates
These outcomes will not only hurt families while they struggle to find housing in the short term, but will also lead to reduced opportunities and increased health problems for these families in the long term. Studies have shown that unstable housing situations can cause individuals to experience increased hospital visits, loss of employment, and are associated with increased likelihood of mental health problems in children, and can dramatically increase the risk of an acute episode of a behavioral health condition, including relapse of addiction in adults.
Having safe and stable housing is crucial to a person’s good health, sustaining employment, and overall self-sufficiency. These effects will be particularly prominent in the children, nearly all of whom are U.S. citizens, in these mixed status families. Research has shown that economic and housing instability impedes children’s cognitive development, leading to poorer life outcomes as adults. Housing instability is directly correlated to decreases in student retention rates and contributes to homeless students’ high suspension rates, school turnover, truancy, and expulsions, limiting students’ opportunity to obtain the education they need to succeed later in life.
Individuals with Disabilities
People with disabilities comprise a large percentage of the individuals served by HUD programs, including programs covered under the proposed rule. For example, about 1 in 3 households using Section 8 vouchers are headed by a non-elderly person with a disability and about 1 in 5 households living in public housing are headed by a non-elderly person with a disability.
People with disabilities often have few financial resources and remain among the country’s poorest. At the same time, people with disabilities all too often face discrimination when seeking housing. Termination of assistance under the proposed rule could put people with few options at risk, with tremendous cost to their health, earning potential, well-being and other significant harm.
In Illinois, 21% of people receiving federal rental assistance have a disability. Federal rental assistance helps 92,600 people with disabilities to live independently in Illinois.
Many people with disabilities who do not receive rental assistance, such as those who would be evicted if the proposed rule goes into effect, face an extreme shortage of affordable rental housing, particularly if they need housing that is accessible and/or all their income is from SSI. In 2018, the SSI monthly payment was $750. In many parts of the state, the average rent for a studio apartment is far in excess of that amount.
In addition to people with disabilities living in mixed status families that will lose rental assistance, many people with disabilities will be at risk of losing assistance because of the proposed rules new documentation requirements for seniors and citizens. People with disabilities often have additional barriers to accessing proof of citizenship and identity. For example, some people with disabilities do not drive and are less likely to have state-issued identification; in 2012, 7.5 percent of people with disabilities lacked a valid ID compared to less than 5 percent of people without disabilities.
Survivors of Gender-Based Violence
Certain immigrant survivors of gender-based violence such as human trafficking, sexual assault, and domestic violence will be severely and disproportionately harmed by HUD’s proposed rule. Traumatized and vulnerable, survivors are also often indigent and face numerous challenges to their basic well-being. As a result, ready access to safe, affordable housing is critical to their ability to flee abusive homes. For some, their basic survival hangs in the balance.
If the proposed rule goes into effect, ineligible survivors and their eligible children who are trying to escape violent homes will be trapped in a false “choice”—homelessness or remaining with an abuser. Those already living in subsidized housing who are evicted and forced to return to a violent home will face an even greater risk to their safety. It is commonly known that the danger to a victim actually increases once she escapes, with one estimate noting a 75% increase in violence for at least two years following an escape.
This proposed rule is likely to have a profound impact on the LGBTQ community, including thousands of bi-national same-sex couples. The most recent available data from the American Community Survey indicates that there are nearly one million same-sex couples in the United States, as nearly one in ten LGBTQ adults are immigrants, it is likely that same-sex couples are bi-national at rates similar to the general population. Nearly one-third of LGBTQ immigrants are undocumented, indicating that a significant number of LGBTQ bi-national couples could be impacted by this proposed rule.
As a result of systemic discrimination, LGBTQ people are 2.5 times more likely to receive public housing assistance than their non-LGBTQ peers. The need for these programs is especially acute for transgender people, LGBTQ people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people of color.
Public Housing Authorities and Private Housing Owners
Under the proposed new requirements for documentation, tens of thousands of public housing agencies and private property owners and managers would need to collect documents proving the citizenship of over nine million assisted residents receiving HUD assistance who have already attested, under penalty of perjury, as well as the citizenship of future applicants for assistance. Housing providers would also need to collect status documentation from 120,000 elderly immigrants.
Additionally, the proposed rule calls for public housing authorities to establish their own policies and criteria to determine whether a family should receive continued or temporary deferral of assistance. All of these requirements will place a significant cost burden on housing authorities and other subsidized housing providers that are completely unaccounted for in the rule.
Other anticipated costs for housing authorities and other subsidized housing providers include:
Again, many of these costs and burdens on housing providers are not considered in the proposed rule. Moreover, these costs could deter housing providers from participating or continuing to participate in these programs, which would decrease the affordable housing supply even more. The proposed rule will require already overburdened public housing authorities and housing providers to take on additional administrative costs, without providing the benefit of reducing waitlists or improving public housing. HUD has failed to account for these costs and should do its due diligence and perform a comprehensive study on the impact the proposed rule will have on housing providers and local housing markets more generally, before finalizing the proposed rule.
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