Ben Carson, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, suggested this week that his administration would like to evict undocumented immigrants from public housing, a move that would displace tens of thousands of children who do live in this country legally. An estimated 55,000 children of families who rely on subsidized housing for shelter would be affected by this proposal, according to an analysis conducted by HUD staff. The same analysis determined that the proposal would also cost the government more money and in turn reduce the number of families that the HUD could afford to serve.
As of today, “mixed-status” families are eligible to reside in public housing. In other words, if at least one member of the household is a legal resident of the United States, the entire family may live together under one roof. The HUD subsidizes only the legal residents of the household. Carson attempted to appeal to legislators’ sense of rationale and justice in his proposal to remove over 25,000 of these mixed-status families from their homes. “There are hundreds of thousands who are waiting on the list,” he said. “If in fact you want to explain to the American citizens on the waitlist … why we should continue to support families who are not here legally, I’d be happy to help you explain that.”
Many of the Democratic committee members took issue with Carson’s proposal, which according to the Washington Post was the brainspawn of Stephen Miller. (No big surprise there.) Representative Maxine Waters warned, “The Trump Administration’s proposal puts mixed-status families at risk of being evicted, separated, and left homeless.” Fellow committee member Representative Nydia Velázquez called Carson out on being disingenuous in his insistence that HUD’s new proposal was designed to better serve the American public. “Why, if you recognize that there is a housing crisis in our nation, that there are 4.4 million people on a waiting list … why did you request $9.6 billion less for HUD’s budget for fiscal year 2020? Do you understand why this sounds like you’re talking from both sides of your mouth?”
"No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O. REO."
Tuesday was hardly a cookie-cutter day for Ben Carson.
— CNN (@CNN) May 21, 2019
Representative Sylvia Garcia proposed a counter resolution that would block the HUD proposal, characterizing it as the Trump administration’s latest attempt to separate families of immigrants. “The cruelty of the proposed HUD rule is truly remarkable, even by the standards of this Administration,” she wrote in a statement. “Secretary Carson has chosen politics over people with the end result of forcing US children to be separated from their families or risk homelessness.”
In the same hearing, Carson acknowledged that the HUD has neglected to offer reasonable health protections to residents of public housing by failing to install working carbon monoxide detectors in HUD facilities. “Regrettably, there is currently no universal federal requirement that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all HUD-assisted housing. That’s wrong,” he said to legislators. NBC News pointed out that four public housing residents have died of carbon monoxide poisoning this year alone. Lead paint is also a major issue in public housing. According to a 2017 report in Health Affairs, about 60,000 public housing units were in need of a lead abatement.