With Federal Housing Assistance in Jeopardy, LA County to Support Mixed-Status Families

Under current federal law, undocumented immigrants and immigrants who have been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault are ineligible for public housing subsidies, but they can live with their mixed-status family if a relative in their household is eligible for federal housing assistance. However, last month the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a rule change to deny families from obtaining subsidized housing if any family member is ineligible. In response, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion, authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, which calls for the implementation of a Countywide plan that will prevent families from being evicted if this HUD proposal is enacted and they are impacted.

“This proposed HUD rule would break up families and cause thousands to lose their homes, which would exacerbate the housing and homeless crisis in Los Angeles County. This cruel and inhumane policy proposal would harm the more than 55,000 children who are either U.S. citizens or legal residents who would face eviction and be at risk of homelessness. HUD’s proposal would force families to make an unthinkable choice: stay together as a family or separate while some family members remain in their homes,” said Supervisor Solis. “This proposal undermines any sense of morality and decency, and we will do everything in our power to fight this injustice. We will defend and protect all residents in LA County.”

“In a region that is suffering from a daunting housing affordability crisis, the last thing we need is policies coming out of Washington, D.C. that make it even more challenging to safely house some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

On May 14, the Board voted unanimously to oppose HUD’s proposal, which would require all residents in federally subsidized housing under the age of 62 to undergo verification of their immigration status through the Department of Homeland Security. The Supervisors also approved sending five-signature letters to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and to the LA County Congressional delegation to register the County’s opposition to this HUD proposal. In addition, the Supervisors instructed the LA County Development Authority/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (LACDA) to submit comments to HUD to convey how this proposed rule could exacerbate the County’s homeless crisis.

The proposed HUD rule would impact about 108,000 individuals in 25,000 families nationwide, including 55,000 children who could become homeless. This short-sighted proposal could lead to fewer households receiving federal housing subsidies overall. Mixed-status families currently receive prorated assistance, which requires that household members ineligible for federal subsidies pay their fair share of rent. As a result, mixed-status households pay more for their subsidized housing than households that are not mixed-status. Offering housing subsidies only to U.S. citizens or legal residents would be more costly in the long run.

Today’s Board motion directs County Counsel to analyze the proposed rule change and monitor any legal action aimed at challenging the proposed rule to prevent it from taking effect and present recommendations to the Board to possibly file and/or join in as amicus or as a plaintiff in litigation, if appropriate. The motion also instructs LACDA’s Executive Director, along with the County’s Chief Executive Officer, the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) and the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA), the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Coordinated Entry System Lead Agencies for Families, the Department of Public Social Services, and County Counsel, to strategically reach out to vulnerable families who may be evicted through a culturally and linguistically inclusive plan that will include recommendations to prevent families from being displaced. This Board motion also instructs that the County identify rental programs that could supplant federal subsidies for affected families so that these families could remain together in one household. County departments are expected to report back in 60 days.

This motion also directs all County departments and agencies to refer all questions about this HUD proposal to DCBA. It also directs OIA in consultation with LACDA, County Counsel, and other affected Departments, along with community-based immigration and housing rights organizations, to draft an outreach plan to inform immigrants and their families of available wraparound services if/when they contact the County for help as a result of this HUD proposal taking effect. OIA is expected to report back to the Board within 60 days.

Today’s action marks the 36th immigration motion Supervisor Solis has authored to protect, defend, and fight for the rights of immigrants since the 2016 presidential election. Her efforts include a $3 million dollar contribution to the LA Justice Fund and the creation of the first-ever County Office of Immigrant Affairs. To view a complete list of actions, please click here.

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Communications Director, rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov or 213-359-0795