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Here’s how many Fresno kids would be displaced under HUD’s undocumented proposal

Urban Institute director speaks on HUD proposal targeting undocumented immigrants

A proposal by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson would affect Fresno and California families with undocumented immigrant members, evicting them from public housing.
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A proposal by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson would affect Fresno and California families with undocumented immigrant members, evicting them from public housing.

Some 1,300 children in Fresno could be displaced under a new proposal that would force undocumented family members to move out of public housing, according to preliminary numbers from a local review.

The review by Fresno Housing Authority’s staff completed Tuesday also revealed the agency could lose more than half a million dollars annually from lost rent coming from mixed-immigration status families, since they pay more per month compared to non-mixed status families, said Preston Prince, executive director and chief executive officer for the Fresno Housing Authority.

The review looked at families in public housing and Section 8, where the head of the household, or the co-head of household or spouse of the head of the household is undocumented.

The local analysis provides a first look at the kind of impact a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposal — targeting families with mixed-immigration status — could have locally.

“It’s very concerning,” Prince said Tuesday, especially given the issue of mixed families has been discussed in the past and within the housing industry.

Late last month, HUD said Congress was reviewing the proposal, which seeks to evict undocumented family members living in public housing. On Friday, HUD published the proposed rule on the Federal Register, and will be open for public comment for 60 days.

The opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed rule ends on July 9.

HUD’s proposal targets families with mixed immigration status. For example, that includes families who might have U.S.-born children, but one of their parents might be undocumented.

Nationally, HUD estimates 55,000 children could be displaced, and about 10,000 of them are in California. HUD believes around 70 percent of the 55,000 children are U.S. citizens. That percentage might be the same locally, Prince said, but staff are still trying to confirm how many of the 1,300 impacted Fresno children are U.S. citizens.

Prince said the proposal seems “short-sided” and “harmful to these kids.” He said if the proposal is enacted, families of some of the 1,300 children, impacted locally, could end up homeless.

“Temporary homelessness could arise for a household, if they are unable to find alternative housing, for example in tight housing markets,” according to HUD’s nationwide impact analysis.

Additionally, if the proposal does move forward, Prince said, the Fresno Housing Authority stands to lose $600,000 a year, Prince said. Mixed-status families pay a pro-rated rent, and the portion of the rent that’s paid by the undocumented family member is the same as the market share.

Mixed-status families pay an average of $300 to $400 more per month for their rent compared to non-mixed-status families, Prince said. That wouldn’t be replaced by HUD.

HUD’s impact on its budget, nationwide, resulting from the proposed rule could be as much as $227 million a year, according to HUD’s impact analysis.

That reduction in funding at the local level would come on top of reductions that Congress has made to HUD in the last few years for operational and maintenance costs, Prince said.

“It would create that much more of a shortfall annually in our program,” Prince said, adding public housing wouldn’t be well maintained.

There would be other negative ripple effects from this proposal. If the proposed rule is enacted, it could lead people to falsify information, and that would create fraud detection challenges for the Fresno Housing Authority, he said.

Even if this proposal doesn’t get enacted, it will still have a “chilling effect” on families who might live in fear, Prince said.

But nothing has been finalized at this point. “No family is at risk now,” he said.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services sent a letter for HUD Secretary Ben Carson on Friday, the same day the proposed rule was published, expressing their dismay at the proposed change. The committee has oversight over the nation’s housing and banking services.

The proposed changes are “consistent with the Trump administration’s previous egregious attempts to intimidate immigrant communities, separate families, and undermine American values,” according to a copy of the letter.

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