Trump Destroys These Obama-Era Laws Against Housing Discrimination
One of the biggest issues in housing is equality. There is a consistent problem with minority and lower class residents being forced into tightly clustered groups of unsafe and out of date housing. When the majority of minorities are stuck in these neighborhoods, it is harder for them to find educational and career opportunities that help them get out of poverty. The government has tried to tackle this problem in the past, but the Trump administration is now trying to roll back the guidelines against racial discrimination.
Trump Repeals Rules That Addressed Racial Discrimination in Housing
This week, the White House announced plans to move forward with officially repealing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. Since the beginning of July, Trump has been tweeting about his dislike of the AFFH. After a few weeks of steadily attacking it, the repeal has finally been announced. It will be replaced with a new rule that does not require jurisdictions to actually do anything about racial segregation in housing. The repeal is part of a big push to remove government regulations before the next election. Though the AFFH is currently the face of this deregulation, there are several other helpful laws that may also be removed.
What Is The AFFH Rule And What Does It Do?
The AFFH is simply a guideline for areas that get federal housing funds. Implemented in 2015 as part of the Fair Housing Act, it simply says that federal housing related programs have to actively combat discrimination. These programs were required to assess their jurisdiction for any housing discrimination patterns. Then they were supposed to take steps to decrease discrimination.
For example, some cities may only allow apartments in a very small zoning area, which can prohibit minority residents from living in other parts of the city. Under the AFFH, the city would have to work towards removing racially targeted zoning laws if they wanted federal funds for housing. Despite Trump's claims that the AFFH was an overreach of big government, it did not actually regulate how cities can handle housing. All it did was require those who wanted federal funds to discuss racial discrimination in their region.
Why Does Trump Suddenly Care About This?
Trump's repeal of the AFFH seems to be an attempt at gaining white, suburban voters. The language he has used when discussing the AFFH seems to be specifically racially targeted. By suggesting that housing diversity will lead to a rise in crime, he directly suggests that minorities are criminals. Trump's repeal of the AFFH is even more concerning when you realize that he has a past of being against housing discrimination laws. In 1973, he and his father were sued for refusing to rent to black applicants.
Instead of discussing the complexities of the AFFH, Trump has simplified it into the idea of putting low-income housing projects in the middle of suburban neighborhoods. This is not actually a goal or requirement of the AFFH, but those who only get their information from Trump's Twitter feed may not realize what the AFFH actually is. By simplifying the issue, Trump's main goal seems to be scaring white suburban voters and implying that re-electing him is the only way to stay safe. This strategy attempts to distract from the administration's disastrous handling of the pandemic while appealing to suburban and racist voters.
How The AFFH Repeal Will Affect Housing Markets
The AFFH rule was designed to combine housing, transportation, education, and economic development in a way that would benefit all races. Repealing it will do far more than just keeping apartments out of suburbs. The AFFH was mainly about addressing neglected neighborhoods, where people did not have access to safe schools, healthy food, or public transportation. If cities are no longer required to actually analyze and address patterns of discrimination, thousands of people may not get the assistance they need to overcome poverty.
Furthermore, changes to the AFFH will reduce the production of low-income housing. The newer rules essentially assume that increasing the overall number of market-rate housing in a region will create a "trickle down" effect where housing becomes cheaper overall. Unfortunately, economic studies in the past have shown this is only mildly effective, so it will not give people the affordable housing they actually need. Some cities may still choose to create diverse and affordable housing, but without regulations in place, some may choose to let discrimination flourish.
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