Senators: Immigration Housing Rule Worsens Homelessness

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called on the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to repeal a proposed rule which would prevent families living with undocumented household members from living in government subsidized housing.

According to a review of the new rule’s potential impact, estimates show that 25,000 families, over 100,000 people, would be affected by this change.

The new rule attempts to expand on an existing one which prevents taxpayer funds from being directed toward undocumented immigrants. However, it would affect both those with “ineligible” immigration status (someone not following a legal immigration pathway) and “eligible” status (someone with legal permanent residency or recipients of asylum in the U.S.).

Current HUD rules classify households with members of both “eligible” and “ineligible” immigration status as “mixed” households. For now, assistance to “mixed” families is prorated, not denied. Under the new rule, they “may be denied assistance or simply terminated from a program.”

Of the 100,000 people affected by this change, 71 percent have “eligible” immigration status. Of those eligible, the wide majority, 73 percent, are children (ages 0 – 17).

The rule would “require verification of the eligible immigration status of all recipients of assistance under a covered program who are under the age of 62,” but also cuts off assistance to unless everyone in the home, regardless of age, is “of eligible immigration status.”

Wyden and Merkley were two of 17 signatories to a letter sent to HUD Secretary Ben Carson criticizing the rule for the effects it could have in worsening homelessness nationwide.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to advance a dangerous agenda that targets and scapegoats the immigrant community,” the letter read.

By Ian MacRonald