WASHINGTON (THE WASHINGTON POST) - The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acknowledged that a Trump administration plan to purge undocumented immigrants from public housing could displace more than 55,000 children, all of whom are legal US residents or citizens.
The proposed rule, published on Friday (May 10) in the Federal Register, would tighten regulations against undocumented immigrants accessing federally subsidised housing to "make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it", HUD Secretary Ben Carson said last month.
But the agency's analysis of the rule's regulatory impact concluded that half of current residents living in households potentially facing eviction and homelessness are children who are legally qualified for aid.
Current rules bar undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies but allow families of mixed-immigration status as long as one person - a child born in the United States or a citizen spouse - is eligible. The subsidies are prorated to cover only eligible residents.
The new rule, pushed by White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, would require every household member be of "eligible immigration status". Undocumented immigrants may no longer sign the leases of subsidised housing, even if their children are entitled to prorated benefits.
Approximately 25,000 households, representing about 108,000 people, now living in subsidised housing have at least one ineligible member, according to the HUD analysis.
Among these mixed-status households, 70 per cent, or 76,000 people, are legally eligible for benefits - of whom 55,000 are children, HUD says. The vast majority live in California, Texas and New York.
"HUD expects that fear of the family being separated would lead to prompt evacuation by most mixed households," the agency's analysis said. "Temporary homelessness could arise for a household, if they are unable to find alternative housing."
Those mixed-status families in subsidised housing receive an average of US$8,400 (S$11,400) per household a year, according to the HUD analysis, which is typically written by career staff.
Restricting those subsidies to families in which all members are legal US residents would cost an additional US$193 million to US$227 million a year because entire families would receive higher subsidies, the analysis said.
Given that Congress is unlikely to allocate the additional money, HUD probably would be compelled to "reduce the quantity and quality of assisted housing in response to higher costs", the analysis found.
As a result, the analysis said "there could be fewer households served under the housing choice vouchers programme" - contrary to the Trump administration's stated goal of getting more families off the years-long waiting lists for housing assistance.
For public housing complexes, increased costs imposed by the rule would hurt the quality of service, maintenance of units and "possibly deterioration of the units that could lead to vacancy", HUD said.
The analysis went on to suggest "less costly" alternatives to limit the "adverse impact of the transition on eligible children", such as grandfathering in current mixed-status families and only applying the proposed rule to new households seeking HUD subsidies.
"Tens of thousands of deeply poor kids, mostly US citizens, could be evicted and made homeless because of this rule, and - by HUD's own admission - there would be no benefit to families on the waiting list," said Ms Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.