Eight State Agencies Submit Public Comment in Opposition to HUD's Ban of Mixed Immigration Status Households from Federal Housing Assistance Programs
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a robust multi-agency opposition to the federal government's proposed rule change that would ban mixed immigration status households from receiving federal housing assistance. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's proposed rule would have devastating consequences for mixed-status families, the majority of which include children who are U.S. citizens and otherwise eligible for support. Eight state agencies have submitted public comment in opposition to the proposed rule change, reaffirming New York's commitment to fair housing and protecting all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status.
"The federal government's proposed policy change is needlessly cruel and will cause undue harm to our most vulnerable residents including seniors, veterans, children, people with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence," Governor Cuomo said. "In New York, we know that our diversity is our greatest asset, and we will not stand idly by as Washington continues its all-out assault on our immigrant communities."
"While the federal government continues to attack immigrants' rights, New York is committed to ensuring equal opportunities and resources for immigrant children and families," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This proposed ban would jeopardize fair housing and support for mixed-status families and threaten the safety and security of individuals living in our state and our country. New York is proud of our diversity and rich culture, and we will not tolerate efforts that roll back our progress."
On May 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a proposed rule change to the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980: Verification of Eligible Status. The federal government's proposed rule would ban mixed immigration status households from residing in federally funded public housing and using the Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers program.
The proposed rule would also require the verification of the immigration status of all family members living in a household where an individual receives federal housing assistance and would mandate that the head of household or leaseholder must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
The proposed rule is in direct conflict with the laws, public policy and Constitution of New York State by using eligible immigration status as a pretext for discrimination against individuals based on their national origin and race.
The proposed rule would increase housing instability for mixed-status families, including U.S. citizens, across New York State. This will result in an increase in evictions and homelessness and create added burdens on New York State's affordable housing market. These harmful consequences will be felt most severely by children and vulnerable adults including seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence.
Eight New York State agencies and departments will submit public comment in opposition of the proposed rule: Department of Health, Division of Human Rights, Homes and Community Renewal, Office for the Aging, Office for New Americans, Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
The Governor's commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing that pursues the goals of the Fair Housing Act and the NYS Human Rights Law is reflected in the state's unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building or preserving more than 100,000 affordable homes, and an additional 6,000 with support services.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Cuomo is leading the nation in his fight against the discriminatory and harmful policies of this administration. The combined effect of this rule change is that families, many with children who are U.S. citizens and otherwise eligible children, will be left homeless or in substandard housing conditions. By opposing this misguided and unnecessary change, we are continuing our fight against homelessness and increasing access to safe, fair and affordable housing for all."
New York State Division of Human Rights Commissioner Angela Fernandez said, "This proposed federal rule to deny housing assistance to families of mixed immigration status violates the New York State Human Rights Law and drives a wedge between family members. Once again, Governor Cuomo and New York State are in the forefront of the fight against discriminatory policies that strip New Yorkers of their basic rights. The Division of Human Rights will vigorously oppose this effort."
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Office for New Americans, said, "New York stands united against yet another assault on immigrant families by the Trump administration. New York State is home to countless families with members from across the world and with varying immigration statuses. Withholding crucial housing aid does nothing but place even more hardship and harm on these families, including thousands of innocent citizen children. We oppose this draconian measure in all its forms and will continue fight on behalf of our immigrant neighbors across the state."
"Public health and housing security are closely intertwined," said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "The Proposed Rule will force tens of thousands of people, including children, into homelessness, leading to a widespread deterioration in public health and causing healthcare costs to skyrocket."
Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "OCFS stands firmly with Governor Cuomo in opposition to this destructive proposal that would be harmful to families across New York State. Withholding housing assistance from immigrant families who are already struggling would be particularly harmful to children who deserve better."
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Michael Hein said, "This draconian federal proposal will cause a dramatic increase in housing instability among mixed-status families and have a long-term detrimental impact on the physical and emotional well-being of their children -including those who are U.S. citizens. In addition, the increase in homelessness that is anticipated through this measure will result in an undue fiscal burden on New York State and local social services departments, which will be forced to contend with a surge in demand for public benefits and shelters. Simply put, this proposal is short-sighted, cruel, unnecessary, and in direct contrast to the principles that have guided our state's laws and public policies."
Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging, said, "As the first age-friendly state in the nation, New York recognizes that access to safe, affordable housing opportunities are paramount to living with autonomy in the community. This proposed rule will have a devastating impact on older adults and family caregivers, adding undue stress on families, creating strain on limited public services, and heightening the demand for institutional care, all of which will lead to increased public costs. I commend Governor Cuomo for leading the opposition to this damaging proposed rule, and for his ongoing commitment to creating diverse, integrated, livable communities where all New Yorkers can grow up and grow older."
Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Gwen Wright said, "This proposed rule would inevitably cause lasting, detrimental effects on the population my agency serves - victims of domestic violence. The rule would not only limit victims' safety planning options, but it would also strain the state's shelter system and domestic violence programs. I commend Governor Cuomo for continuing to fight to protect the rights of all New Yorkers."