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New HUD rule could force NYC families from public housing

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“The only thing this proposed rule would do is potentially make another 22,000 to 25,000 families homeless”

A family living in a Crown Heights public housing complex.
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A Trump administration proposal to eliminate public housing subsidies for tenants who are undocumented immigrants could push out thousands of New York families from their homes, according to the federal government’s own estimates.

The rule change, recently put forward by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), would block tenants from receiving federal housing subsidies unless each member of a household has “eligible immigration status.” Currently, families can receive subsidies even if only one member is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or a non-citizen with a certain type of visa.

Such a change could impact some 108,000 tenants in 25,000 of these “mixed households” across the country, according to HUD analysis. Seventy-two percent of those families are concentrated in three states—California, Texas, and New York—with New York accounting for 12 percent of those households. That puts roughly 13,000 tenants in 3,000 New York households at risk of losing their housing subsidies.

If the rule were to go into effect, HUD anticipates an exodus of the so-called mixed families from public housing. Some families members, the federal agency predicts, may voluntarily leave the household, but other ineligible tenants with young children who are U.S. citizens would likely flee public housing together, according to HUD’s report on the proposal.

“HUD expects that fear of the family being separated would lead to prompt evacuation by most mixed households,” the report states. “Even if a parent is willing to sacrifice him- or herself for the sake of the household’s continuing receipt of housing assistance; a household would probably suffer a worse outcome by trying to adapt to the new rules than by leaving together.”

As their families are evicted, 55,000 children nationwide could be displaced from public housing under the new rule—of that, some 6,600 children in New York City housing. HUD argues that the new policy would work to free up 25,000 households—1.6 million people nationwide are on the waiting list for public housing or federal housing vouchers. That figure at NYCHA alone is a whopping 177,000.

In a Friday letter, 13 of New York’s congressional representatives blasted the policy as “smoke and mirrors” and not a true solution to the “core problem in our nation’s housing crisis.”

“The only thing this proposed rule would do is potentially make another 22,000 to 25,000 families homeless or tear families apart,” the letter states. “Again, while it is certainly true that HUD’s resources are limited, its limited budget should not be used as excuse to cruelly punish hardworking families and some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”