The Department of Housing and Urban Development is revoking a policy meant to diversify the suburbs.
The Trump administration on Thursday revoked an Obama-era policy aimed at desegregating and diversifying the suburbs, the latest attempt by Donald Trump to both undo his predecessor's legacy, as well as inject race into the political discourse.
"The suburb destruction will end with us," read a fact sheet on the decision put out by the White House, quoting Trump.
The release also claimed the decision "eliminates the excessive burden put on local communities and gets rid of the top-down approach that dictated zoning for communities."
"The rule will help promote housing that is affordable, decent, safe, and free from discrimination," it read.
The revoked AFFH policy, an acronym for "affirmatively further fair housing," was an add-on to a landmark civil rights law from 1968 that bans discrimination "concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status," according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"The basic concept of AFFH ... was to give jurisdictions that had been saying for a long time that they needed help figuring out how they were supposed to think about this and analyze segregation in their jurisdictions a map" for solving the problem, Debby Goldberg, vice president of Housing Policy and Special Projects at the National Fair Housing Alliance, said in an interview.
Goldberg added that the Trump administration has made a converted effort to be divisive and racialize the policy.
"It's the complete opposite of what we need from the federal government and [the Department of Housing and Urban Development] in this moment when the country is grappling with racial injustice and really desperate for strategies to change that and to overcome that," Goldberg said.
That sentiment was echoed by Julián Castro, the former HUD secretary under Barack Obama, who said in a statement the AFFH rule was the product of "decades of work by civil rights leaders and fair housing champions working to desegregate our neighborhoods."
By revoking it, Castro said, Trump has "committed to take this country back to a time when housing discrimination against people of color flourished with impunity."
After rolling back the policy, Trump promoted a racist op-ed in the New York Post that lamented the diversification of the suburbs. In it, the author wrote that Obama was forcing towns to "make it possible for low-income minorities to choose suburban living."
Trump promoted that op-ed in a tweet, in which he used sexist language suggesting all suburban women are "housewives."
"The Suburban Housewives of America must read this article," Trump tweeted. "Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream. I will preserve it, and make it even better!"
Ultimately, Trump is trying to win back support in the suburbs, which have sharply turned against him since he took office.
In 2018, Democrats retook control of the House by winning suburban voters.
That suburban support is continuing to erode, with a Washington Post/ABC News poll from Sunday finding Biden leading Trump among suburban women, 60% to 36%. Among all suburbanites, Biden leads Trump 52% to 43%.
Trump's falling support from suburban voters also threatens to take down more GOP members of the House, as well as control of the Senate, with him.
"Overall, Trump is an albatross around the neck of these Republican candidates," said Stu Rothenberg, a political analyst who specializes in predicting congressional races, in a recent interview.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.