DSA-LA Public Comment on HUD Proposed Rule to Prohibit Undocumented Immigrants from Housing Assistance

Today is the last day to submit a public comment against the Trump administration's latest attack on immigrants — and tenants of public housing. This new proposed rule would would eliminate housing assistance for low-income families that include both documented and undocumented immigrants, forcing more than 100,000 people to make the impossible choice between splitting up their families or falling into housing insecurity and potential homelessness. The Housing & Homelessness Committee and Immigration Justice Committee have submitted the following public comment on behalf of DSA-LA.

July 9, 2019 

Submitted via www.regulations.gov
Office of General Counsel, Rules Docket Clerk
Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW, Room 10276
Washington, DC 20410-0500

Re: HUD Docket No. FR-6124-P-01, RIN 2501-AD89 Comments in Response to Proposed Rulemaking: Housing and Community Development Act of 1980: Verification of Eligible Status

To Whom It May Concern:

The Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles (DSA-LA) submits this public comment in opposition to the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposal to prohibit eligibility for mixed status households to (continue to) qualify for public and subsidized housing, Docket ID HUD-2019-0044, published in the Federal Register on May 10, 2019.

We are the Los Angeles-based chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which is the largest socialist organization in the United States. We believe that working people should democratically run both the economy and society to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few. We are a political and activist organization, not a party; through campus and community-based chapters, DSA members use a variety of tactics, from legislative to direct action, to fight for reforms that empower working people.

Here in Los Angeles, we’ve devoted large-scale organizational efforts towards fighting the housing affordability and homelessness crisis. We’ve campaigned to expand rent control in California to protect more tenants from the impact of skyrocketing rents, pushed for increased public housing and permanent supportive housing for LA’s growing houseless population, and advocated for the civil rights of our unhoused neighbors at the hands of local law enforcement, resulting in recent, proposed changes to the city’s street-cleaning efforts.

Along with those efforts, we’ve fought to provide legal representation to those facing deportation proceedings, disentangle ICE from local law enforcement, reduce excessive policing of undocumented people, and advocate against the wars that displace migrant populations.

With our organizational experience in mind, DSA-LA opposes HUD’s proposed rule change. We see how it will exacerbate the crisis in Los Angeles by pushing more tenants out of housing and closer to the brink of homelessness where they will be made vulnerable to brutal enforcement agencies such as the Los Angeles Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

According to the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), this proposed rule would impact somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals in LA who live with non-qualified family members — only 1,500 of these individuals are non-qualified themselves. In reality, non-qualified family members residing in public housing or units supported by a Housing Choice Voucher are not receiving benefits they are not qualified for, since housing authorities pro-rate assistance based on the number of qualified individuals in a household.Therefore, the rule does not redistribute housing benefits from unqualified individuals to qualified individuals, as unqualified individuals aren’t receiving benefits in the first place.

We also reject the justification for the rule change — that pushing mixed status households out of subsidized housing is necessary because of a lack of housing supply. It's true that more supply is needed to address the demand for public and subsidized housing, but the solution is not to evict thousands of families that also need it. The argument that the housing crisis is a crisis of limited supply is often used by YIMBY (Yes in my Backyard) groups, but HUD under Ben Carson’s leadership is not concerned with increasing the supply of public housing. HUD is merely borrowing this rhetoric to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment. 

The proposed rule change would primarily impact children who would no longer be eligible for subsidized housing because of their parent’s immigration status. We consider this another kind of family separation policy, which we vehemently oppose.

Carson's rationale for the rule change is that "[we need to] make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it" — an acknowledgement of HUD’s intent to maintain the status quo of its current limited supply, but to limit the scope of people benefitting from it. If HUD was really concerned about housing supply, the department would invest in building more public housing. However, the Trump administration has only ever shredded HUD's budget, diminishing — not expanding — public housing stock. 

This is not the first time that Carson has used YIMBY rhetoric to advance an agenda of austerity and exclusion. Last year, he used the promise of tackling restrictive zoning regulations as an argument against Obama-era fair housing rules.

Carson’s use of YIMBY rhetoric is telling here; he shares the YIMBY belief in a flawed market-based, trickle-down approach to housing production and allocation — predicated on the actions of developers and landowners whose profits depend on scarcity, class inequality, and racial injustice. The housing affordability crisis will not be overcome through further divisions of who is and isn't deserving of shelter in our cities. We urge HUD to immediately withdraw this proposal and dedicate its efforts to massive new investment in public housing for all.

Sincerely,

Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles


HUD will be accepting public comments on this proposed rule until July 9 at 8:59 p.m. PST, and it is imperative that they hear from organizations and individuals alike about how this proposed change will separate families and place thousands more Angelenos at risk of homelessness. You don't need to write anything as lengthy on your own — just a few paragraphs in your own words will make a difference. Click here to submit comment.