Together, the ACLU of Connecticut and Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness filed a public comment this week strongly opposing the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed rule change that would ban "mixed-status" families from living in public housing or Section 8 programs if at least one household member is undocumented or otherwise ineligible for housing benefits due to their immigration status. The Proposed Rule is another federal government attack against immigrants that would hurt people in Connecticut.

More than 74,000 Connecticut families receive assistance from public housing, Section 8 project-based rental assistance, Section 8 moderate rehabilitation, or a housing choice voucher program. Current HUD policy already requires that federal housing assistance only be provided to people with legal residency in the U.S., and so housing assistance levels are adjusted (pro-rated) to only assist those members of the household and not those with undocumented status. Close to 200 Connecticut families receive prorated HUD rental assistance because they live with an immigrant who is ineligible for HUD assistance. Under the Proposed Rule change, these families would lose their assistance or be forced to separate their families in order to keep a roof over their heads.

In addition to attacking mixed-status families, the Proposed Rule threatens housing security for 9.5 million U.S. citizens currently receiving HUD assistance and all future U.S. citizens seeking these benefits. The Proposed Rule would require U.S. citizens to provide additional evidence of their citizenship, a practice that has proven to be burdensome, costly, and unnecessary in other contexts.

Rather than the current rule requiring someone seeking housing assistance from HUD to declare their citizenship status or nationality through a signed statement under penalty of perjury, the Proposed Rule would require U.S. citizens to also provide documents proving their citizenship or nationality, such as a birth certificate or a naturalization certificate, which can be extremely difficult for some people to obtain.

Surveys have shown that obtaining documents proving citizenship can be particularly difficult for people over the age of 50, people of color, people with disabilities, people with low incomes, and those who were formerly homeless or are experiencing homelessness. In fact, one survey showed that roughly 7 percent of U.S. citizens did not have this documentation readily available – which means hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens may not be able to produce the required documents and would lose their housing assistance as a result. As many as 151,000 Connecticut residents could lose their housing assistance if they are unable to produce documents verifying their citizenship under the new rule.

The federal government’s cruel Proposed Rule would hurt families in Connecticut and across the country. Together with the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, we are urging HUD to immediately withdraw the Proposed Rule and to instead advance housing policies that strengthen families’ abilities to remain together in stable, affordable housing.

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