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Malign Neglect? Urban Policy in the Trump Era

How much do we have to fear from the president-elect's policy plans for urban America? We can hope that he will follow his party's playbook and largely ignore the cities, but potential changes to housing policy are more serious.
December 1, 2016, 9am PST | Keli_NHI
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Aneta Waberska

To paraphrase physicist Niels Bohr, (or maybe it was Yogi Berra), "predicting is difficult, especially when it’s about the future." One would think even more so when looking at the subject of urban policy, as it is just one of many issues that Trump has never put out a position on nor shown any particular interest in. Actually, that might make prediction easier, not harder. Why? It seems pretty clear that Trump doesn’t have much policy bandwidth; in fact, he may be the least policy-minded person to serve as president since Warren Gamaliel Harding.

What that means, I believe, is that when it comes to issues that don’t engage him on a gut level—and are not red meat to his base—he’s not likely to push any policy ideas of his own. Instead, he’s more likely to leave those issues, one of which is urban policy, to the Republicans in Congress, along with whichever right-wing apparatchik or mortgage lender becomes HUD secretary.

First, this means there’s not going to be much urban policy, period. The Republican Party leadership doesn’t care much about cities. Cities are full of Democrats, minorities, and poor people. Programs with broad constituencies, like the Community Development Block Grant Program and HOME Investment Partnerships Program, will probably remain but shrink further; Low-Income Housing Tax Credits may stay under the radar and survive. After all, they’re good business. Modest Obama initiatives like Promise Zones will disappear, and nothing will replace them. Cities have become used to getting relatively little help from the federal government to address their social and economic problems, and they will get even less.

Potential changes to housing policy, however, are more serious.

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Published on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 in Shelterforce/Rooflines
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