USDA to Publish its Own Rule Prohibiting “Mixed-Status” Immigrant Families from Living in Assisted Housing

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is currently reviewing a proposed ruleon the Rural Housing Service’s citizenship requirements for the agency’s multifamily housing programs. The proposed rule will likely prohibit mixed-status immigrant families from living in RHS programs covered by Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980. The notice of proposed rulemaking is projected to be published in August 2019. HUD earlier published a rule prohibiting mixed-status families from living in public and other subsidized housing.

Section 214 covers several RHS programs, including the Rural Development (RD) Voucher program, Section 514 Farm Labor Housing, and Section 515 and Section 514/516 developments that receive RD Rental Assistance. The proposed RHS rule could lead to families splitting up, forgoing assistance, or being evicted from their homes.

Under Section 214 undocumented immigrants cannot receive federal housing assistance, but families of mixed-immigration status can live in subsidized housing if at least one member of the household is eligible to receive assistance. U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylum seekers are eligible to receive housing assistance. Residents can declare themselves ineligible and are not required to reveal their immigration status. When a family of mixed-immigration status receives housing assistance, the family’s subsidy is pro-rated to account for only legally eligible residents.

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