The secretary said his agency would seek to strengthen current verification processes and tighten restrictions that already deny housing assistance to certain undocumented immigrants.
“We need to make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it,” Mr Carson said. “Given the overwhelming demand for our programs, fairness requires that we devote ourselves to legal residents who have been waiting, some for many years, for access to affordable housing.”
Mr Carson, who was appointed by Donald Trump to lead the federal agency despite lacking any government experience, posted a link on Twitter to an article published by the right-wing website Daily Caller titled “SCOOP: HUD Planning Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants Taking Advantage of Public Housing” and wrote in a tweet: “Thanks to @realDonaldTrump’s leadership, we are putting America’s most vulnerable first.”
“Our nation faces affordable housing challenges and hundreds of thousands of citizens are waiting for many years on waitlists to get housing assistance,” he added.
The secretary’s comments went largely unnoticed by the mainstream media as news outlets covered the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Current housing rules forbid undocumented immigrants from receiving federal assistance, though mixed-immigration status family units are still eligible. This means a family with one or more undocumented immigrants living in the US can receive federal housing assistance so long as one person in that family was born in the US, is a citizen, lawful permanent resident, refugee or asylum seeker.
Under the new reported rules, these families would no longer be eligible to receive housing assistance.
While some organisations estimate there are between 22,000 and 25,000 households nationwide with non-eligible families members who currently receive subsidized housing, the department estimates there are nearly 32,000 households headed by non-legal US residents who are receiving federal housing assistance, according to the Washington Post.
“This is going to make people much more afraid because they are going to think they will not be able to get a green card or citizenship if they access benefits," Susan Popkin, a housing expert at the Urban Institute, told the outlet. “It’s really going to affect people who are legally eligible for housing but who are now afraid to ask for help.”