Tens of thousands of children could be displaced and become at risk for homelessness under the Trump administration’s latest effort to bar undocumented immigrants from using public benefits, according to an analysis from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to the Washington Post, under a new HUD rule published to the Federal Register on Friday blocking all undocumented people from using subsidized housing, more than 55,000 children—all of whom are legal residents or U.S. citizens—could be displaced as a result.
As the Post notes, undocumented immigrants are currently not allowed to receive federal housing subsidies. However, families of mixed-immigration status can receive assistance as long as one person is eligible, such as a child born in the U.S. or a spouse who is American. The subsidies are then prorated to only cover the eligible residents. But the new rule proposed by HUD would require all members of a household to meet those eligibility requirements to receive benefits.
The rule, which is open for public comment until June 9, would use the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program to verify a person’s immigration and citizenship status to check their eligibility for housing assistance. Under the new rule, the department would “make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it,” HUD Sec. Ben Carson said last month.
The department’s regulatory impact analysis found that an estimated 25,000 households in subsidized housing (with about 108,000 people) have at least one ineligible member. Of the mixed-status households who may be evicted under the new rule, 70 percent (or approximately 76,000 people) are legally eligible for benefits. Half of public housing residents who could potentially be evicted under the proposal are children who qualify for subsidies.
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And while the Trump administration might try to disguise the policy, pushed by the president’s white nationalist senior adviser, Stephen Miller, as an effort to make public housing more available to households comprised entirely of U.S. citizens, HUD itself has said that no one may benefit from the eviction and subsequent homelessness of mixed-status families. From the Post, emphasis mine:
Those mixed-status families in subsidized housing receive an average of $8,400 per household a year, according to the HUD analysis, which is typically written by career staff.
Restricting those subsidies to families in which all members are legal U.S. residents would cost an additional $193 million to $227 million a year because entire families would receive higher subsidies, the analysis said.
Given that Congress is unlikely to allocate the additional money, HUD probably would be compelled to “reduce the quantity and quality of assisted housing in response to higher costs,” the analysis found.
As a result, the analysis said, “there could be fewer households served under the housing choice vouchers program” — contrary to the Trump administration’s stated goal of getting more families off the years-long waiting lists for housing assistance.
For public housing complexes, increased costs imposed by the rule would hurt the quality of service, maintenance of units and “possibly deterioration of the units that could lead to vacancy,” HUD said.
HUD’s analysis did propose grandfathering current mixed-status households under the proposal for a cheaper measure, but knowing Trump and Miller, destabilizing and terrorizing immigrant families will come at any cost.