Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week urged federal officials to reconsider a newly proposed public housing rule that could worsen homelessness and force some families of mixed citizenship status to separate.
The Oregon senators’ letter to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson comes in response to a rule proposed last month by the department that would prohibit families in which at least one member is undocumented from subsidized housing.
Current rules already prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies, but this new rule would prevent families with mixed status from living in subsidized housing. If enforced, entire families, including children, would be forced to vacate their homes.
“This misguided approach runs counter to HUD’s mission and breaks with the sensible policies the Department has had in place for over two decades under both Republican and Democratic administrations,” Wyden and Merkley wrote in a letter signed by 17 other senators. “This is nothing more than an attempt to advance a dangerous agenda that targets and scapegoats the immigrant community.
“This change does nothing to address the affordable housing crisis and may actually take assistance away from eligible immigrants and citizens,” they wrote. “Forcing American children into homelessness does not solve any housing issues, rather, it creates new ones and would likely end up costing more in homeless services and trauma-related healthcare expenditures.”
Also signing the letter were Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)