WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said Thursday that it is revoking an Obama-era housing regulation designed to eliminate racial disparities in the suburbs, a move that fair housing advocates have decried as an election year stunt designed to manipulate the fears of white voters.
In a tweet addressed to “The Suburban Housewives of America,” President Donald Trump made his intended audience clear. “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” he said. “I will preserve it, and make it even better!”
Trump has repeatedly characterized the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation as an existential threat to the suburban way of life that will bring about more crime and lower home prices.
In a statement, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said the regulation known as AFFH, was “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.”
It will be replaced by a new rule that reduces the burden on local jurisdictions to prove that they are actively taking steps to address historical patterns of racial segregation in order to qualify for HUD financing.
“Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs,” Carson said.
Fair housing advocates said the new regulations water down the previous requirements to the point of meaninglessness.
“What’s surprising is they’re going this far and essentially rendering the rule null and void. This is as far as this administration could have possibly gone,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It feels like a real gutting of the rule.”
Debby Goldberg, vice president of housing policy and special projects for the National Fair Housing Alliance, said that HUD has removed almost any oversight or burden of proof for jurisdictions to show they are addressing racial disparities.