HOUSTON (FOX 26) - We first told you the staggering numbers as FOX 26 exclusively examined Houston’s housing crisis. Now, a member of the Trump administration is weighing in on the more than 100,000 Houstonians awaiting affordable housing but the head of HUD is accusing illegal immigrants of being the source of the problem.
Here’s the tweet posted by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson:
"There are more than 100,000 American citizens waiting for public housing in Houston. Do you think they should continue to wait while people here illegally are taking their space?"
"It’s completely false but it does point to the reality of a real crisis in terms of affordable housing, a crisis that is not created by undocumented immigrants,” says Houston Housing and Community Development Director Tom McCasland.
"Houston's housing crisis is because our housing isn’t affordable for a significant volume of the families in Houston and Harris County,” explains Mark Thiele who is the Senior Vice President for Houston Housing Authority.
“One hundred and forty thousand households in Harris County making less than $20,000 a year is an affordable housing crisis because they can not take that money and find quality homes. Secretary Carson got one thing right. We do have an affordable housing crisis here but it’s not due to undocumented immigrants in this country. It's due to years upon years of failed federal policy,” adds McCasland.
Houston housing authorities says it’s actually against federal law for illegal immigrants to receive housing assistance. "If you don’t have documents or you’re an ineligible non citizen folks in this category would not receive the subsidy,” says Thiele.
"It’s not that hard to get a fake drivers license or fake papers and are allowed to acquire the housing that could go to U.S. citizens. I’m proud of the secretary not being afraid of the political correct police but instead standing up and saying this is wrong,” says President of Conservative Republicans of Texas Jared Woodfill. Woodfill points to what’s called Mixed Subsidy Families as proof. "That one individual can get in legally and then bring others in that are not here legally".
"As far as undocumented immigrants, there are very few of what we call Mixed Subsidy Families. There are 42 out of 22,500 families that we serve on an annual basis,” explains Thiele.
"It is possible there’s an undocumented immigrant living in less than 1% of the households here but the federal government is not actually spending a dime on that person’s rent,” adds McCasland.
Houston’s affordable housing crisis grew from 14,000 people on the wait list to more than 112,000 after Harvey. "Making sure we solve this crisis is absolutely important but falsely blaming other people for the crisis is not going to get us where we need to be,” says McCasland.
What will get us where we need to be? McCasland says he believes just as "we as a city stepped up in a major way with the help of federal funding to effectively end homelessness among Houston veterans". He says the same has to happen for affordable housing.