On May 10, 2019, HUD published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would lead to thousands of “mixed status” immigrant families that have members who are undocumented or otherwise ineligible for public and other subsidized housing to split up or be evicted, putting them at high risk of homelessness. Mixed-status families are households that include members who are eligible and others who are ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. Currently, HUD allows families to live together in subsidized housing even if one family member is ineligible so long as the housing subsidy is prorated to exclude the ineligible person from the assistance. It is important to note that just because a household member is an “ineligible” immigrant, it doesn’t mean that they are undocumented. Immigrants can have legal status and still not be eligible to receive housing assistance.  When the Department published the current rule, it stated, “the rule strives to maintain the unity of the family” and allowed for continued assistance, prorated assistance, or temporary deferral of termination of assistance for mixed families. Prorating the subsidy ensures that assistance is provided according to the number of family members eligible to receive assistance, thereby ensuring compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Under the proposed rule, mixed-status families will no longer be able to reside in assisted housing. Mixed families can maintain their subsidy by removing the ineligible individual from the household (HUD acknowledges this is a “ruthless” option in its analysis of the impact of the rule) or must leave the program altogether. Additionally, noncitizens aged 62 and older will have to begin submitting documentation of their immigration status.

Under the proposed rule, public housing agencies (HA’s) will have to collect and verify additional immigration information from tenants and applicants. HAs will also be required to terminate assistance to families participating in the Public Housing and HCV programs. HUD assumes that nationwide, 25 percent of mixed families will have to be evicted through formal court processes and estimates the cost per household to be as high as $3,000, totaling somewhere between $3.3 and $4.4 million. HUD is not proposing to provide funding to HAs to pursue legal action to enforce the rule. HAs with large numbers of mixed families or local immigrant communities will need to proactively educate the public on new eligibility requirements and update their policies to reflect compliance.

The Housing Authority of Champaign County urges HUD to immediately withdraw the proposed rule. The current rule regarding mixed families and the proration of assistance is compliant with federal laws and causes no undue burden to housing authorities across the nation. Family unity should be considered a fundamental value and component of our immigration system. The proposed rule will force many families to choose between being torn apart and homelessness and undermines the core mission of HUD and Housing Authorities to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Sincerely yours,

David A. Northern Sr.

Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer

Housing Authority of Champaign County