Jul 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump wades into suburban housing wars

Illustration of a hand about to pick up the last house surrounded by leftover imprints of other long gone houses. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration has rescinded the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, an Obama-era policy aimed at curbing discriminatory housing practices and racial segregation.

Why it matters: The suburbs are where some of the fiercest zoning battles regarding affordable and multifamily housing are playing out across the country.

  • Suburban votes will also be crucial in the upcoming election.

What Trump's saying: "I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood... Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down," he tweeted Wednesday.

Catch up quick: The 2015 AFFH rule required communities that receive federal housing aid to also address racial segregation in their local housing practices.

  • Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said the AFFH rule was "unworkable" for localities.
  • Democrats and housing advocates blasted the rule reversal. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the move "blatant racism."

Reality check: Trump's appeal to the "Suburban Lifestyle Dream" plays to a vision of suburbia that might be outdated in an era when Black Lives Matter signs line so many lawns. But it also touches a nerve for homeowners who fear that steps to add affordable or multifamily housing will impact property value in their neighborhoods.

  • NYT reporter Conor Dougherty, who writes extensively about the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area, summed it up on Wednesday:
  • "Watching Bay Area/SF pols try to squirm while rationalizing how they don't agree with Trump housing policies that are not so different from their own is some good Twitter," Dougherty tweeted.

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