HUD Moves to Prohibit Housing for Mixed-Status Households; Will Limit Funding for Native American Tribal-Owned Finance Agencies
The Trump administration is attempting to target immigrants and minorities with a new proposal that would eject families with mixed-citizenship status from federally subsidized or public housing. HUD on Wednesday proposed a new rule that would vet all members of families applying for subsidized or public housing, including those who declare themselves ineligible and do not receive assistance. HUD Secretary Ben Carson argues that implementing this rule would help cut down the years-long waitlist for public assistance and prioritize the “most vulnerable.” Housing advocates argue that this policy would do little to make a significant dent on the waitlist -- while 32,000 people would lose their homes, approximately 1.6 million families are on waitlists for public housing and more than 2.8 million families are on waitlists for Section 8 Housing Vouchers. Currently, HUD allows families to live together in subsidized housing even if one member of the family is an ineligible immigrant. The agency prorates the subsidy for the household, so any family members who declare that they are not eligible are simply excluded from the benefits. HUD also issued a Mortgagee Letter that prohibits national housing finance agencies, including those owned by Native American tribes, from providing down payment assistance because these housing finance agencies operate nationally. Indian Country-based tribes would be prohibited from providing down payment assistance to anyone except tribal members purchasing properties on their own reservation. Tribes argued that the restriction would put Native American-owned organizations out of business almost immediately. "HUD's appalling new guidelines put Indians back on the reservation and deal a heavy blow to Native Americans' efforts to establish businesses that provide jobs and revenue for our people," said Bobby Rowser, a Board member of the Cedar Band Corporation, which operates the down payment assistance provider known as CBC Mortgage Agency and is wholly owned by the Cedar Band of Paiutes of Utah. "Let's be clear: This painful government action will cause serious erosion of Native American progress toward self-determination." Rowser said the CBC Mortgage Agency would seek an order barring implementation of HUD's new policy in federal court as soon as possible.