Harrisburg, PA – (July 25, 2019) Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller and Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin have submitted comments to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) indicating the Wolf Administration’s strong opposition to a federal proposal that would withhold housing assistance from some immigrant families.
In a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, secretaries Miller and Davin advocate for the continuation of the current prorating system, which provides a method for public housing authorities (PHAs) to support the housing needs of low-income children and adults who are U.S. citizens or have an eligible immigration status who live with someone who is ineligible. These are considered mixed status families.
Under the proposed rule, a household would no longer receive any housing assistance unless every member residing in the home is of eligible immigration status, eliminating the current policy of prorating assistance according to the number of eligible persons in the home.
“Children are the largest group benefitting from the current policy, and they would be the most harmed by a rule change to exclude mixed-eligibility families from access to affordable housing,” Secretary Miller said. “We are speaking up on behalf of those children and urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reconsider this discriminatory proposal.”
At the very least, the secretaries argue, a grandfathering provision should be included to allow families that are currently receiving a prorated subsidy to remain until they choose to no longer participate in a Section 214 program.
“Rather than stripping away housing assistance from the families and children who need it most, the federal government should be focusing on strengthening our communities and empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty,” Secretary Davin said. “This policy would place undue burden on our public housing authorities that are providing crucial housing services. We urge HUD to rethink this approach.”
If implemented, this new policy would add unnecessary stress to an already overburdened system of Pennsylvania Public Housing Authorities. Instead of working with low-income families to secure stable housing, the PHAs would be forced to spend valuable time and money to exclude mixed-eligibility families from access to affordable housing.
“The departments of Human Services and Community and Economic Development exist to strengthen Pennsylvania communities, but this federal proposal undermines that mission,” Secretary Miller said. “We call on the Trump Administration to reverse course and abandon its effort to implement a policy that will discriminate against the most vulnerable families and ultimately harm children.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James, DHS – 717-425-7606; Michael Gerber, DCED – 717-783-1132