1.4: Strategies for Working with Undocumented and Refugee Families
Immigrant Access to Federally Assisted Housing MELIAH SCHULTZMAN, ATTORNEY NATIONAL HOUSING LAW PROJECT FEBRUARY 10, 2011 www.nhlp.org
Goals 2 We’ll first discuss immigrant eligibility for federally assisted housing We’ll then share practical tips for assisting immigrant families in securing housing
Keep In Mind: 3 Questions regarding immigration status can be complex—try to find an expert in your community who can help with these issues. When assisting immigrant families in accessing subsidized housing, it’s critical to identify the type of housing that’s involved. Coalition-building is often needed to improve immigrant access to housing in a community.
A Step-By-Step Approach 5When figuring out housing options for immigrants,consider these three steps:1. Identify the type of housing the applicant is applying for2. Identify the housing applicant’s immigration status3. Determine if the housing applicant is eligible for that particular unit
Types of Federally Subsidized Housing 6 Today we’ll discuss the following types of housing: Public Housing and Section 8 Other major subsidized housing programs, including HUD’s homelessness programs Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP)
Public Housing and Section 8: Issues Affecting Immigrants 7 FAMILIES OFTEN HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR PUBLIC HOUSING AND SECTION 8
Public Housing and Section 8 8 The following categories of immigrants are eligible for public housing and Section 8: Lawful permanent residents Lawful temporary residents Refugees, asylees, trafficking victims, and persons granted withholding of deportation or removal Parolees Citizens of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau
Public Housing & Sec 8: Mixed Status Families 9 If at least one member of household is a U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant, the family can live in public housing or Section 8 Rent subsidy is pro-rated based on the number of eligible persons All household members must disclose income but can choose not to declare status
Hypotheticals 10 Clare, who is undocumented, has two children, Mike, an undocumented teenager, and Tyler, a six- year old, born in the U.S. Can they live in public housing or Section 8? Kim has one child age 3. Both are lawful permanent residents who entered the U.S. in 2008. Kim’s mother came from Korea to visit. When her visa expired, she overstayed. Mom, child, and grandma apply for Section 8. Is the family eligible?
Public Housing & Sec 8: SSNs 11 All applicants must disclose their Social Security Numbers (SSN) to be eligible for assistance. To verify SSNs, an applicant must produce: An original SSN card; An original SSA-issued document containing the applicant’s name and SSN; or An original document issued by a federal, state, or local gov’t agency containing the applicant’s name and SSN The housing provider transmits the applicant’s name, SSN, and date of birth to HUD. HUD validates the SSN against the SSA’s database.
Public Housing & Sec 8: SSNs, cont’d 12 SSN disclosure requirements do NOT apply to applicants who do not contend eligible immigration status 24 C.F.R. § 5.216; HUD Notice PIH 10-3 (Jan. 20, 2010) A housing provider may NOT deny assistance to mixed families due to nondisclosure of an SSN by an individual who does not contend eligible status HUD Notice PIH 10-3 (Jan. 20, 2010)
Is It Safe for Undocumented People to Apply? 13 Housing authorities are required to report information to USCIS only in very limited cases. The reporting obligation is not triggered by: An statement by the immigrant; A worker’s suspicion about a person’s immigration status; or A formal finding that the person is ineligible for a benefit. Recommendation: Gather information as best you can regarding the local housing authority’s practices
Immigrants’ Access to Other Housing Programs 14 UNLIKE PUBLIC HOUSING AND SECTION 8, SEVERAL OTHER SUBSIDIZED HOUSING PROGRAMS DO NOT HAVE IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS
Other Major Subsidized Housing Programs 15 All immigrants are eligible for these programs: Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Section 811 Supportive Housing for the Disabled Community Development Block Grant HOME Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Shelter Plus Care and other McKinney homeless programs Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program
Problems on the Horizon? 16 Some cities have attempted to restrict access to Shelter Plus Care and other programs critical to homeless immigrants by saying that the 1996 federal welfare reform law applies to these programs. But even under the welfare reform law, nonprofit charitable organizations are not required to determine, verify or otherwise ask for proof of an immigrant’s status As a result, nonprofits can create a safe environment for immigrants who are seeking services
HPRP 17 HUD has issued limited guidance on immigrants’ eligibility for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP) HUD: You cannot knowingly provide HPRP to someone who is not a “qualified alien,” but nonprofits are not required to verify immigration status. Some jurisdictions have been more aggressive about screening immigration status than others.
Practical Tips 18ISSUES TO CONSIDER AS WE THINK ABOUT SERVING IMMIGRANT FAMILIES
Issues to Consider 19 Tips we’ve heard from advocates & service providers: Outreach with housing providers, including housing authorities, is critical. They often think everyone has to have a SSN, and their forms and notices can be misleading. Become familiar with the types of subsidies that the affordable housing units in your community receive Urge housing providers to collect SSNs only when required by state or federal law. Urge housing providers to offer adequate language services to limited English proficient households. If a housing provider’s policies are having a negative impact on immigrants, document that impact.
Issues to Consider: Cont’d 20 More tips: If a family lacks credit or tenancy history, discuss ways that they can show future ability to pay rent Service providers: Consider the consequences of asking about immigration status during intake. If you don’t need to know, make that explicit to the individual. Use caution if considering speaking to the media. Seek help from an advocacy organization if a housing provider or municipality plans to impose immigration restrictions that go beyond what we’ve discussed today.
Information/Referrals: 21 National Immigration Law Center www.nilc.org National Housing Law Project www.nhlp.org Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. www.cliniclegal.org American Immigration Lawyers Association www.aila.org