Yentel urges housing advocates and members of the community to comment on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed public charge rule. The deadline to comment is Monday, December 10, 2018. Writes Yentel, the “Housing community to weigh in to support immigrants and urge the administration to stop this shortsighted and cruel attack.”
The Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” which was released in October by DHS “Would have profound and negative consequences on immigrant families’ ability to access critical and life-saving benefits, including housing assistance.”
“Public charge is a term used in federal immigration law to refer to a person who may depend on the government as their main source of support. When a non-citizen applies for a visa to enter the U.S. or for lawful permanent residence, the government official looks at the person’s life circumstances to see if the person may need services now or in the future. If the official determines that the individual is likely to become a public charge, the person’s application may be denied.”
The concern is that immigrants classified as a “public charge” would not apply for HUD programs such as the Section 8 Voucher Program and other federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), Medicaid and parts of Medicare. “For the first time, an applicant for a visa or green card would be judged by if they need—or might need in the future—support for safe and stable housing, food assistance and health care.”
Families who are afraid to apply for critically needed federal assistance may be at increased risk of homelessness.
As use of rental assistance decreases, the likelihood that low income families fall into homelessness increases, with all of its personal and societal costs. Blaming immigrant families for the increasing gap between wages and housing costs and stripping them of their ability to access safe and affordable homes will only increase our country’s racial and economic disparities and put housing and well-being further out of reach for many families. The proposed rule, if implemented, would create significant longer-term costs to the federal government; people in unstable homes have poorer health, lowered educational attainment and lessened lifetime earnings.