Official White House Photo by Joyce N. BoghosianBy ANNE FLAHERTY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — In a move squarely aimed at courting white conservative suburban voters, the Trump administration was expected Thursday to officially dismantle an Obama-era rule that tried to lessen racial segregation in America’s neighborhoods and replace it with weaker enforcement.
The decision was likely to have little immediate practical impact because the agency had already suspended enforcement of the rule in 2018. Instead, the plan by the Department of Housing and Urban Development seemed aimed at stoking racial tensions in an election year.
Trump hinted at the move when he warned voters in a virtual town hall that Democratic candidate Joe Biden wants to “abolish” the suburbs and eliminate single family zoning, “bringing who knows into your suburbs, so your communities will be unsafe and your housing values will go down.”
“At the request of the president, HUD will be tearing down the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule,” Housing Secretary Ben Carson told The Daily Caller. “In nearly every case, it is a fact that local governments are more adequately equipped to deal with their community’s unique needs than any unelected bureaucrat in Washington.”
“President Trump made a promise to preserve America’s neighborhoods, I am pleased to report that promise has been kept,” he said.
A HUD spokesperson confirmed the plan is to “terminate” the rule.
Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, pushed back, tweeting: “I mean…how will we know the difference? They effectively did this years ago.”
President Barack Obama’s 2015 fair housing rule was aimed at trying to encourage local communities to address deeply ingrained patterns of housing segregation that determine where Americans shop, go to school and access to health care.
Under Obama, federal money was contingent upon the community proactively considering how to reduce inequality and provide fair housing in regulations and permitting decisions.
New Orleans’ plan, for example, proposed expanding affordable housing options in areas with lots of economic opportunities and investing in public transit, schools, and parks in underserved communities.
But critics said the rule was confusing and the computer tool used to submit reports and measure progress was too difficult to use. HUD under Carson suspended implementation of the rule soon after Trump took office. The new proposal, released last January, would focus on the idea of housing choice rather than reducing discrimination, Carson has said previously.
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