NAHRO Comments on DHS Public Charge Proposed Rule

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials opposes the proposed rule due to its negative impact on immigrant families and the additional negative consequence of inefficient use of limited social service funds. NAHRO requested that the proposed rule be withdrawn as written and the current public charge guidance remain in effect.

On December 10, NAHRO submitted comments on the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”

The proposed rule makes significant changes and additions to the current public charge guidance. The proposed new definition of “public charge” is “that a person should be considered a public charge based on the receipt of financial support from the general public through government funding (i.e., public benefits).”In order to use this definition of “public charge,” “public benefit” must be defined and the proposed rule provides a definition that vastly and inappropriately expands the programs that are to be considered. The proposed rule defines public benefit as a list of cash aid and noncash medical care, housing, and food benefit programs. The list of benefits includes the current cash assistance and institutionalization benefit and further expands the benefits to include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps), the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV), Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), Medicaid, and Public Housing.

NAHRO made two primary arguments in opposition to the proposed rule – very few noncitizens use housing benefits and the proposed rule causes unnecessary confusion while an inefficient use of resources.

DHS acknowledges in the proposed regulation that noncitizen participation in the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance programs is “relatively low.” Congress, via statute, and HUD, via regulation, have already protected federal dollars from being used on non-eligible noncitizens and there is no fiscally responsible reason for DHS to further step into this arena.

The proposed rule, despite having few benefits for its expected cost, has caused considerable confusion and angst among current and potential residents of HUD’s housing programs. Current residents have left housing programs because of a fear of being separated from their family because of the proposed rule. Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) around the country are attempting to combat the confusion of this public charge proposed rule. Many PHAs are reaching out to their current residents and local communities to explain the proposed rule and how it applies to the HUD housing programs. The resources needed to explain the public charge proposed rule and any future final rule would be much better spent on providing housing and resident services to U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials opposes the proposed rule due to its negative impact on immigrant families and the additional negative consequence of inefficient use of limited social service funds. NAHRO requested that the proposed rule be withdrawn as written and the current public charge guidance remain in effect.

NARHO’s full comments can be viewed here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s