Point of View: Keep Families Together - by Diane Yentel, NLIHC President and CEO

In an extraordinary and historic rebuke of HUD Secretary Ben Carson, more than 30,000 people and organizations submitted comments on HUD’s cruel, wasteful and needless “mixed-status” proposal. With its proposal, HUD would evict 25,000 mixed-status immigrant families from subsidized housing, including 55,000 children who are citizens or legal permanent residents. The cruelty of Secretary Carson’s proposal is breathtaking, and the harm it would inflict on children, families and communities is severe. At a time when the housing crisis continues to worsen, it is truly appalling to have the secretary of HUD attempt to use his authority to increase homelessness, and to further his efforts through mistruths and outright lies about both the need and the impact of the rule.  

NLIHC and NHLP led a national campaign to oppose this cruel proposal and to Keep Families Together. Our members and partners – residents of subsidized housing, concerned citizens, local and state partner organizations, cross-sector national organizations, public housing agencies, members of Congress, mayors and other elected officials, state attorneys general and many more –rallied in opposition. Together, we held webinarspress conferences, and Tweetstorms. We issued press releases with statements of opposition from dozens of housing, faith, racial and social justice, and immigration leaders and generated dozens of national press stories on the cruelty of the proposed rule. We wrote op-eds and editorials, shared powerful videos and held comment parties

Members of Congress joined our efforts through letters, hearings, and bills seeking to block implementation. Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) introduced the “Keep Families Together Act” (H.R. 2763), which passed out of House Financial Services Committee on June 12. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S. 1904). The House also passed a funding bill that includes language to prevent the administration and enforcement of the proposed rule. The congressional Tri-Caucus – which includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus – sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson expressing their opposition to the proposed rule, asking him to withdraw it. 

Attorneys general from 23 states submitted comments sharing their concern that “the Proposed Rule, if finalized, would violate federal law, displace tens of thousands of eligible children and families from their homes without basis, and cause extensive harm.” Other state and local officials, including mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, the City of New York, and the heads of the Housing Authorities of the City of Los AngelesFresno and Houston submitted comments and used traditional and social media to encourage their peers to share their opposition. 

This overwhelming opposition to HUD’s proposal is historic. The last time a HUD proposal garnered significant public attention was a regulation to affirmatively further fair housing; it received just over 1,000 public comments compared with the more than 30,000 comments on this proposal. 

I am deeply grateful for and heartened by your powerful and effective efforts, for your partnership and support. But our work is far from over. I fully expect Secretary Carson to keep defending and pushing this proposal forward, and we can expect (and will mobilize against) a similar proposal to come out of USDA later this summer. We will pursue all avenues to prevent these cruel proposals from going into effect. The bottom line is that this is not housing policy at all – it is anti-immigrant policy. 

We won’t stand for it.

In solidarity,