Point of View: Keep Families Together

Thanks to CMHNetwork readers who participated in this extraordinary effort. Please read the letter of gratitude from Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition President & CEO.

In an extraordinary and historic rebuke of HUD Secretary Ben Carson, more than 30,000 people and organizations submitted comments on HUD’s cruel, wasteful and needless “mixed-status” proposal. With its proposal, HUD would evict 25,000 mixed-status immigrant families from subsidized housing, including 55,000 children who are citizens or legal permanent residents. The cruelty of Secretary Carson’s proposal is breathtaking, and the harm it would inflict on children, families and communities is severe. At a time when the housing crisis continues to worsen, it is truly appalling to have the secretary of HUD attempt to use his authority to increase homelessness, and to further his efforts through mistruths and outright lies about both the need and the impact of the rule.

NLIHC and NHLP led a national campaign to oppose this cruel proposal and to Keep Families Together. Our members and partners – residents of subsidized housing, concerned citizens, local and state partner organizations, cross-sector national organizations, public housing agencies, members of Congress, mayors and other elected officials, state attorneys general and many more –rallied in opposition. Together, we held webinarspress conferences, and Tweetstorms. We issued press releases with statements of opposition from dozens of housing, faith, racial and social justice, and immigration leaders and generated dozens of national press stories on the cruelty of the proposed rule. We wrote op-eds and editorials, shared powerful videos and held comment parties.

Members of Congress joined our efforts through letters, hearings, and bills seeking to block implementation. Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) introduced the “Keep Families Together Act” (H.R. 2763), which passed out of House Financial Services Committee on June 12. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S. 1904). The House also passed a funding bill that includes language to prevent the administration and enforcement of the proposed rule. The congressional Tri-Caucus – which includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus – sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson expressing their opposition to the proposed rule, asking him to withdraw it.

Attorneys general from 23 states submitted comments sharing their concern that “the Proposed Rule, if finalized, would violate federal law, displace tens of thousands of eligible children and families from their homes without basis, and cause extensive harm.” Other state and local officials, including mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, the City of New York, and the heads of the Housing Authorities of the City of Los AngelesFresno and Houston submitted comments and used traditional and social media to encourage their peers to share their opposition.

This overwhelming opposition to HUD’s proposal is historic. The last time a HUD proposal garnered significant public attention was a regulation to affirmatively further fair housing; it received just over 1,000 public comments compared with the more than 30,000 comments on this proposal.

I am deeply grateful for and heartened by your powerful and effective efforts, for your partnership and support. But our work is far from over. I fully expect Secretary Carson to keep defending and pushing this proposal forward, and we can expect (and will mobilize against) a similar proposal to come out of USDA later this summer. We will pursue all avenues to prevent these cruel proposals from going into effect. The bottom line is that this is not housing policy at all – it is anti-immigrant policy.

We won’t stand for it.

In solidarity,

Diane


You can read the letter and learn more about the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) here. The Children’s Mental Health Network is a proud member of the NLIHC.

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About the Author

Diane Yentel

Diane is the President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a membership organization dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. Diane is a veteran affordable housing policy expert with nearly two decades of work on affordable housing and community development. Before rejoining NLIHC (where she previously worked as a policy analyst), Diane was Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at Enterprise Community Partners, where she led federal, state and local policy, research and advocacy programs. Prior to Enterprise, Diane was the director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where she managed a team overseeing the development and implementation of nationwide public housing policies, procedures, and guidelines. She also worked to advance affordable housing policies with Oxfam America and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and served for 3 years as a community development Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. Diane is frequently quoted in major media outlets, and has testified multiple time before Congress. Diane has a Masters in Social work from the University of Texas at Austin.

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