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Alabama Arise criticizes proposed rule requiring citizenship documentation for public housing

Gabby Dance

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Non-profit group Alabama Arise recently spoke out against a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that would prevent thousands of mixed-status immigrant families from living in public housing and Section 8 programs, saying the rule would increase homelessness.

The rule would affect children who are U.S. citizens who live with parents or other family members that are not citizens by requiring applicants for subsidized housing to provide documentation of their citizenship.

Under current law, these families are eligible for prorated subsidized housing based on the child’s citizenship. This is because these children, who are eligible for public housing as U.S. citizens, are unable to apply for housing or enter contracts without their parents.

“To deny housing to a non-citizen parent is effectively to deny housing to an eligible child citizen,” said Alabama Arise policy analyst Carol Gundlach.

According to Alabama Arise, the rule would put 55,000 children in danger of being either separated from their families or threatened with eviction.

“This proposal would increase child homelessness, which is already a serious problem in the United States,” Gundlach said. “The U.S. Department of Education identified 1.3 million homeless children in 2016-17, a 70% increase since the 2007-08 school year. More than 14,000 of these children live in Alabama. This plan would harm the health, education and economic stability of tens of thousands of vulnerable children.”

Alabama Arise also noted that the rule would further burden senior citizens and people with disabilities who may have a harder time obtaining the documents that prove their citizenship.

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Copies of birth certificates in Alabama cost $15, while state-issued driver’s licenses or non-driver identification cards in Alabama cost $36.25

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“Many Alabama seniors lack state-issued identification and do not have copies of their birth certificates,” Gundlach said.

Transportation to an Law Enforcement Agency office is also a setback for some Alabamians.

“Public transportation in rural parts of Alabama is often sparse or non-existent, making it harder to get state-issued ID,” Gundlach said.

Instead of implementing the proposed rule, Alabama Arise encouraged the department to strengthen its commitment to provide affordable housing to all families who need it.

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