President Trump Stirs the Fair Housing Pot, Again

In a move probably made to appeal to suburban voters in an election year, President Trump sent a late night tweet claiming that the Obama-era Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule is having a 'devastating impact' on suburbs.

July 2, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Washington, D.C.

Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock

"President Donald Trump threatened to overturn an Obama-era fair-housing regulation meant to eliminate discrimination, claiming that it 'is having a devastating impact on these once thriving Suburban areas,'" reports Lauren Frias

President Trump expressed his opinions about the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule in a late night tweet that neglected to mention his administration's ongoing efforts to undermine the rule since coming into office. Planetizen has been closely tracking the administration's actions on the rule, for example:

Additional news coverage of the president's tweets is also available from Katy O'Donnell, who also points out the Trump administration's previous work to gut fair housing practices and policies. 

Numerous commenters on social media noticed that Trump was probably reacting to an article published this week by Stanley Kurtz for the National Review, who sets up a potential democratic presidency as a death knell for the suburbs, as enabled by the AFFH:

Joe Biden and the Democrats want to abolish America’s suburbs. Biden and his party have embraced yet another dream of the radical Left: a federal takeover, transformation, and de facto urbanization of America’s suburbs.

How would Biden and the AFFH accomplish that goal, according to Kurtz? By ending local control

What surprises me is that Biden has actually promised to go much further than AFFH. Biden has embraced Cory Booker’s strategy for ending single-family zoning in the suburbs and creating what you might call “little downtowns” in the suburbs. Combine the Obama-Biden administration’s radical AFFH regulation with Booker’s new strategy, and I don’t see how the suburbs can retain their ability to govern themselves. It will mean the end of local control, the end of a style of living that many people prefer to the city, and therefore the end of meaningful choice in how Americans can live. Shouldn’t voters know that this is what’s at stake in the election?

It's worth noting that Senator Corey Booker isn't the only person in the federal government that supports the end of single-family zoning. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, appointed by President Trump, has also expressed support for such reforms, and has even published a report that opposes local control specifically. President Trump also signed an executive order to create the "White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing," which would be tasked with implementing similar zoning changes as those proposed by Senator Booker. Others have noticed the similarities in the land use agendas of the liberal arm of the Yes In My Backyard movement with the position of the HUD secretary and the president himself, even if Kurtz hasn't.

Kurtz, however, has a long history of antagonism toward the AFFH, and of Obama's "war on the suburbs," so Trump's late night tweet prompted a victory lap from Kurtz that continues to position this issue as a wedge that could drive more votes for President Trump in November.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 in Business Insider

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

University of Arizona

Proposed Transit Line Would Connect Downtown Tucson to Airport

Based on community input for a 15-mile transit line, residents want to see a focus on affordable housing development and anti-displacement measures.

May 22 - KGUN

Shuttered strip mall in Niland, California

Strip Malls as a Housing Solution

The American strip mall may be a dying breed of commercial development, but could the buildings serve a new use as sustainable housing?

May 22 - Yale Environment 360

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.