With polling suggesting that President Donald Trump is losing the support of suburban voters, he made a strong play on Wednesday to try to capture the suburban vote.
In a tweet sent on Wednesday, he backed a previously announced order to rescind an Obama-era rule that was meant to reduce bias in public housing access. Trump argues that public housing in suburbs drives up crime and lowers property values.
The Obama administration rule was one intended to reinforce a Johnson-administration mandate of preventing bias in public housing access. The Obama administration intended to require public housing administrators to report barriers to obtain public housing.
HUD will still have the ability to investigate organizations over fair housing practices, and can rescind funding.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”
Advocates for public housing say that the Trump-administration order could hurt minority and disabled people.
“People should not be shut out of the American Dream based on the color of their skin. However, decades of redlining have cemented this injustice, perpetuated a massive racial wealth gap between Black and white families, and sustained the continued distribution of resources and opportunity based on race,” said Nikitra Bailey, executive vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending. “The government helped create entrenched, pernicious residential segregation and has an obligation to undo it. By rejecting the Fair Housing Act’s mission to dismantle segregation and the inequity it created, this Administration is eschewing its responsibility and will be on the wrong side of history.”
The National Low Income Housing Coalition said that despite Trump’s claims, introducing low-income residents into communities can “generate positive returns for taxpayers.” The group cited a Harvard study in making the claim.
“The results of this study demonstrate that offering low-income families housing vouchers and assistance in moving to lower-poverty neighborhoods has substantial benefits for the families themselves and for taxpayers,” the study's authors wrote. “It appears important to target such housing vouchers to families with young children—perhaps even at birth—to maximize the benefits. Our results provide less support for policies that seek to improve the economic outcomes of adults through residential relocation. More broadly, our findings suggest that efforts to integrate disadvantaged families into mixed-income communities are likely to reduce the persistence of poverty across generations.”
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, who said he lived in public housing growing up, said that the rule of forcing public housing providers to have documentation of following fair housing rules was a burden.
“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” said Secretary Carson. “Instead, the Trump Administration has established programs like Opportunity Zones that are driving billions of dollars of capital into underserved communities where affordable housing exists, but opportunity does not. Programs like this shift the burden away from communities so they are not forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting and instead allow communities to focus more of their time working with Opportunity Zone partners to revitalize their communities so upward mobility, improved housing, and home ownership is within reach for more people.
“Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs.”
But advocates say the federal government can play a key role in ensuring access to public housing.
“Decades of experience show us that strong HUD requirements, guidance and oversight are absolutely essential to rooting out the structural racism in housing,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Without critical civil rights protections like the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, a devastating race to the bottom that will harm Black communities is the inevitable result. Once again, the Trump administration is undertaking action intended to drag America back into the Jim Crow era of racial segregation.”