Approximately 55,000 children could be evicted from public housing if the Department of Housing and Urban Development goes through with a proposed plan to end public housing aid for undocumented immigrants, HUD revealed in a report on the rule change’s potential impact.
Last month, HUD proposed a rule that would make undocumented immigrants ineligible for public housing aid and force them to relocate within 18 months.
The rule proposes the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, or SAVE program, to verify the citizenship of all members living in a household that receives assistance.
Under HUD’s current rules, families are allowed to live together in subsidized housing even if one family member is ineligible as long the ineligible person declares themselves as as such. The housing subsidy is then prorated to exclude the ineligible person from the assistance.
But HUD's new rules closes that "loophole."
HUD officially proposed changed those rules Friday, publishing the text of the rule in the Federal Register.
As part of the rulemaking process, HUD also issued a report on the potential impact of the rule change.
According to the report , the Trump administration plan to pull public housing aid could lead the removal of 55,000 children from public housing, putting them at risk of homelessness.
Overall, as many as 25,000 households would be affected by the rule change. According to HUD's report, the vast majority of the potentially affected households (72%) come from three states – California (37%), Texas (23%), and New York (12%).
Beyond the direct impact on those households, who would be forced to find another place to live within 18 months, the rule change could also have the opposite effect of what the Trump administration claimed when initially floating the proposal.
“Thanks to @realDonaldTrump's leadership, we are putting America's most vulnerable first. Our nation faces affordable housing challenges and hundreds of thousands of citizens are waiting for many years on waitlists to get housing assistance,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson tweeted when the public housing rule change was initially reported.
The idea, according to Carson, is to make more housing available to American citizens.
“We have a long list of people we can only serve right now one in four of the people who are looking for assistance from the government,” Carson told Fox Business on Thursday. “So obviously we want to get those people taken care of. And we also want to abide by the laws.”
But according to HUD’s own analysis of the proposed rule changes, the move could actually lead to less public housing aid being available because the “American” households replacing the “mixed” households make less money than the families they’d be replacing and would, therefore, require more housing assistance.
From the HUD report:
“An additional transfer of the rule results from the replacement households requiring a higher subsidy than the mixed households. This would occur because the households that replace mixed families, on average, have less income and would receive higher per household subsidies.”
The impact of that would lead to an increase of HUD’s budget of between $193 million and $227 million, meaning it would cost taxpayers as much as $227 million more to give public housing aid to the replacement households.
Another “likelier” scenario would be HUD choosing to serve those replacement households without additional resources or pulling money from other HUD programs.
But according to the HUD report, “perhaps the likeliest scenario” would be HUD reducing the quantity and quality of subsidized housing because of the higher costs, meaning there would less subsidized housing available in the first place and the ones that remained would be lower quality than before.
“With part of the budget being redirected to cover the increase in subsidy, there could be fewer households served under the housing choice vouchers program; while for public housing, this would have an impact on the quality of service, e.g., maintenance of the units and possibly deterioration of the units that could lead to vacancy,” HUD said in the report.
So instead of making more public housing available to those on the waiting list, the proposal could lead to the exact opposite happening.
From HUD's report:
However, it is unlikely that this transfer would occur in the form of increased subsidies from taxpayers to the replacement households. Housing assistance is not an entitlement and the federal budget for housing is not expected to increase because of this rule. Instead, it is likely that the higher per household subsidies would be paid for by reducing average spending on housing assistance for all households. or reducing the number of households served. The number and quality of public housing units likely could decline as could any additional resident services provided by housing authorities.
Beyond all of that, Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition suggests that the “true motivation” of HUD’s rule changes is to instill fear into undocumented immigrants.
“HUD expects the fear of being separated would lead to a prompt evacuation by most mixed-status families, whether or not that fear is justified,” HUD states in a section on the report on the expected responses from the impacted households.
“The cruelty of Secretary Carson’s proposal is breathtaking, and the harm it would inflict on children, families and communities is severe,” Yentel said Friday in a statement. “Tens of thousands of deeply poor kids, mostly U.S. citizens, could be evicted and made homeless by this proposal, and – by HUD’s own admission – there would be zero benefit to families on waiting lists. This proposal is another in a long line of attempts by the administration to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country. We will not stand for it.”
Yentel was joined by more than two dozen housing, faith, civil rights, social justice, and immigration groups in denouncing the proposed rule changes.
HUD itself notes that there are less costly alternatives to the proposed rule change.
From the report:
The first alternative regulatory action would be to grandfather all of the existing mixed- families and apply the provisions of this proposed rule to new admissions only. The alternative would better target housing assistance. Gradually mixed-households would be replaced. For example, with a turnover rate of 10 percent, the number of mixed households would be halved within seven years. Such an option would fulfill the objectives of the rule but would limit the transition costs. A second would be to limit the denial of housing assistance to households for which the leaseholder is ineligible. There are approximately 17,000 households with ineligible noncitizen household heads who will be affected by this proposed rule and would no longer be the leaseholders. This would reduce the number of households affected from 25,000 to 17,000. Such an alternative would likely limit the adverse impact of the transition on eligible children.
According to HUD, the current average wait time for public housing assistance is more than two years.
To read the full HUD report on the impact of the rule change, click here.