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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to withdraw a proposed rule on housing assistance eligibility that raises the specter of eviction for tens of thousands of Californians. The proposal would eliminate housing assistance funds going to families living with people who are ineligible for assistance, such as those with Temporary Protected Status, work visas, student visas, nonimmigrant visas for victims of crimes, and those who are undocumented. The proposal comes despite the fact that, under the existing rule, funds are already deducted based on the number of ineligible members living in the household. In a comment letter, Attorney General Becerra noted that the proposal jeopardizes California families’ access to basic housing, increases burdens on state agencies, and undermines state laws and programs.
“The Trump Administration is needlessly and recklessly endangering access to housing for American families across the country,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In California alone, this proposal will force tens of thousands to make an unthinkable choice between evicting their loved ones and going homeless. Rather than tearing families apart, we should be doing everything we can to support them.”
The Trump Administration’s proposal would prohibit “mixed-eligibility families” from receiving housing assistance in the form of public housing, vouchers, rental assistance, and home loan programs. A mixed-eligibility family is a household where there are residents who are both eligible and ineligible for federal aid based on their immigration status. Currently, HUD allows mixed-eligibility families to live together in subsidized housing. However, HUD decreases the housing subsidy to exclude ineligible individuals from the assistance. In a major shift, under the proposed rule, all families with an ineligible member will be barred from receiving any federal housing assistance and face eviction from subsidized housing, potentially affecting nearly 40,000 individuals in California.
In addition, all of the more than one million people receiving federal housing assistance in California will be required to verify their eligibility under the proposal and, in some instances, made to submit documentation that was not previously required. In addition to placing an inordinate burden on state resources, this requirement is likely to have a disparate impact on elderly U.S. citizens, people of color, citizens with disabilities, and low-income citizens who may face significant barriers to submitting the required documents in time to avoid losing their subsidies. The consequences of this proposed rule would exacerbate California’s housing crisis and, by HUD’s own analysis, lead to a reduction in the quantity and quality of assisted housing. Moreover, the proposal violates the Administrative Procedure Act, the U.S. Constitution, and the Fair Housing Act.
Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting the rights and liberties of families who contribute to California’s economy and cultural diversity. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra led a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s illegal diversion of funds to construct a wall at the southern border, led a multistate amicus brief challenging the Trump Administration’s “Turnback Policy,” and co-led a multistate effort before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to defend hundreds of thousands of people who hold Temporary Protected Status. In addition, Attorney General Becerra urged the Trump Administration to halt its proposal to rewrite rules that limit who can become a citizen based on the use of publicly-funded programs and pushed to protect existing measures used to define who can qualify for federal assistance programs.
A copy of the comment letter is available here. Attorney General Becerra also joined a multistate comment letter led by New York and the District of Columbia, which is available here.