Trump Administration considers Tough Housing Policy on Immigration
For years I have been impressed with the Chelsea section of Manhattan.
It’s now one of the hottest communities in New York, home to celebrity filled nightclubs, boutiques, trendy hotels, and even the “High Line.” A mile and a half, above ground park…created on a former New York Central Railroad.
Even the physical location of where I worked for years at 15th street and 9th Ave is impressive. It’s called the Chelsea Market. On the outside, the Chelsea market is just a huge brown building that looks like an old warehouse. However, inside is an enclosed urban food court, a shopping mall, an office building and even television studios.
I would come out of Chelsea Market, and the corner of 15th Street and 9th Ave always caught my attention. The dichotomy of it all.
On one corner is Chelsea Market. Directly across the street is Google headquarters and on another, third corner, a NYC public housing project .
This is a story about immigration
In housing projects across the country… a change is quietly being looked at by the Department of Housing and Urban development that could have a major impact…. and could end up displaying 55,000 children who are in the country legally.
The Trump administration says the proposed change is aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing assistance. I met with the Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference. Her name Rachel Fee.
“I think it’s about politics. I don’t think it’s about housing to be honest….” “So from my perspective we have seen a constant flow of policies from the Trump Administration punishing the poor. We’ve seen talk about raising rents for public housing and section 8 upwards of 44 percent. Right! We’ve seen these sought of policies. Their either trying to make the poor pay more or make it harder to get subsidies. We’ve heard talk about work requirements in Medicaid, for food stamps, so to me this seems like another policy in the line of making it harder for the poor.” — Rachel Fee/New York Housing Conference
The HUD proposal would bar families where at least one family member is undocumented from obtaining federal housing.
And move that sounds somewhat redundant to housing advocates. Current rules bar undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies… but do allow families of mixed immigration status to live in public housing as long as one household member is a legal resident. The new policy could have the effect of driving out the entire family…including children.
“We are already preventing ineligible households from receiving housing benefits. Right now the current policy says you have to be a us citizen or a legal resident to receive federal housing subsidies. We do have households that have mixed immigration status…and those benefits are prorated so that only the eligible members of the household receive benefits.” — Rachel Fee/New York Housing Conference
HUD points to the long waiting list for public housing…with American citizens struggling to survive and find affordable housing. Fee is not buying it.
“So I find that laughable. This administration just proposed an 18 percent cut to the HUD budget. They proposed completely eliminating capitol funding for public housing….So if we want to address our 60,000 homeless individuals sleeping in shelters tonight…if we want to address the 32 billion in outstanding capitol repairs in new york city housing authority, we would be investing in housing. We wouldn’t be coming up with proposals like this that are actually going to lead to eviction of families who need subsidies.” — Rachel Fee/New York Housing Conference
“The proposal that the Trump administration is putting out seems like a politically motivated one, and it’s really to get attention on this issue of immigration which has become a divisive one. And for low income families who need housing, and they are U.S citizens, and these 55,000 children, they have no where to go.” — Rachel Fee/New York Housing Conference
In a statement HUD secretary Ben Carson says “There is an affordable housing crisis in this country, and we need to make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it…”
Fee takes exception. (You can hear the audio of our full interview with her here)
“It’s one to really Drill down into a divisive issue…pitting Americans against immigrant families, and using this idea of housing subsidies as a way to divide people. I don’t think it’s a good policy…a fair policy and is only going to hurt families.” — Rachel Fee/New York Housing Conference
Already the NY Times has profiled an undocumented woman just recently living in public housing that moved from shelter to shelter over the last decade…but her two daughters are U.S citizens…She is looking at eviction.
”So is this about penalizing legal immigrants?” Journalist Dominic Carter
“In a way it is right, because if you have a mixed immigration household and the person receiving the housing subsidy is eligible for them, that family member has to make a tough choice. Do we break up the household because someone in the household is no longer eligible…do we try to move. we know they can’t afford market-rate housing because their using HUD subsidies. So I think think they are forcing a really tough choice for these families.” — Rachel Fee/New York Housing Conference