If there’s anything we have learned over decades of working in public education, it’s this: Students need stability to thrive. Unfortunately, young scholars in the highest-need communities are often in the most tenuous situations, and the Trump administration is seeking to place an additional obstacle in their path — one that jeopardizes their future just as the new school year kicks off.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has proposed a new federal housing rule that could result in the loss of stable housing for thousands of families in Los Angeles alone. The proposed rule would prohibit “mixed status” families – households with both documented and undocumented family members – from receiving public housing assistance, including Section Eight assistance. This funding is essential in a city where real estate prices continue to skyrocket.
This proposal is a direct attack on immigrant communities and families living in poverty, and we think it is critical for Los Angeles residents to stand united in strongly opposing this assault on some of our most vulnerable Angelenos and their families. The proposed rule is grossly inconsistent with the purpose and mission of HUD — and frankly, it’s un-American.
As a result of this proposed rule, an estimated 55,000 children nationwide, including thousands of Los Angeles public school students, are at risk of losing the stability they need to be successful. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) estimates that nearly one-third of households in Los Angeles public housing have mixed immigration status, and that more than 11,000 residents could be turned out on the streets if this rule goes into effect.
We serve high-needs communities that are likely to be hit the hardest by this change. The Partnership works with the Los Angeles Unified School District — within the system — to create transformational change in some of Los Angeles’ most underserved schools.
Whether in Watts, Boyle Heights or Pacoima, our communities are proud to be home to immigrant families, both longtime residents and those newly arrived. This rule creates a personal nightmare for families that will reduce cohesion in communities and create harmful instability for our schools.
Even families not directly affected by this proposed rule might be fearful about the precedent it would set. There are about 750,000 students in California with undocumented parents, according to a 2017 report from The Education Trust-West. As the assault on immigrants continues, what might be in store for them?
Fortunately, we have seen a groundswell of opposition already emerge. More than 30,000 comments were submitted to HUD opposing the proposal, and a coalition of 23 states also voiced their opposition in a letter to HUD. What’s more, HACLA is planning meetings with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as another avenue to convey the severity of the opposition to the Trump administration’s rule.
Still, it’s going to take diverse voices in Los Angeles and throughout the country to ensure this proposed rule never becomes reality. We teach our students about the democratic process, and how our government is designed to give the people a voice in shaping our laws. We also strive to teach them that the U.S. aims to give its newest residents a shot at the American dream. It is time to put those lessons into action today.
Families need stable housing to flourish. We need Los Angeles residents – our friends, neighbors, students and members of our community – to speak up. Students in mixed status families want an equal opportunity to attend school along with neighbors and friends. It’s a bad idea to let politics stand in the way of educating students by taking away the roof over their heads. We hope HUD will listen to the thousands who oppose this rule and abandon this poorly conceived plan.
Kelly Gonez represents the communities of the East San Fernando Valley on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education. Joan Sullivan is CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, one of the largest in-district school transformation organizations in the nation.