What Will A Trump Presidency Mean for Fair Housing?

Rules protecting minorities' access to housing have been strengthened under the Obama administration. That progress could be lost under a HUD Secretary who opposes Fair Housing altogether.

2 minute read

December 6, 2016, 6:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden

Julian Castro

The politics of Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is likely to differ greatly from those of their predecessor, Julian Castro. | Gage Skidmore / Julian Castro

Fair-housing rules will soon be in the hands of a developer who discriminated against black tenants—President-elect Trump—an anxious CityLab piece by Kriston Capps notes.

Some of Trump’s reported contenders for HUD Secretary are firmly opposed to policies that aim to expand access to good housing in a field historically stacked against people of color and the working class. Kriston Capps notes especially Robert Astorino, who has in some ways built a career out of attacking housing rules. Retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, who in 2015 called fair housing a "noose," has this week been confirmed as Trump's pick for the position.

In a Housing Department governed by these beliefs, recent policy changes meant to strengthen what has until now been weak federal anti-discrimination housing policy could be targeted for revision or even repeal.

The first is Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing—already a target of conservative pushback—which requires cities to assess their own low-income housing practices and compliance with the Fair Housing Act before qualifying for federal housing funds.

Aspects of AFFH have yet to be implemented: the Assessment of Fair Housing tool for state governments, for example, will not receive final approval by the Office of Management and Budget before January 20. If AFFH is to succeed, President-elect Trump will have to finish what President Obama started.

The second is a Supreme Court decision affirming that "disparate impact" of housing policies on different racial groups is a form of discrimination prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, regardless of whether it is an explicit goal.

Trump's pick could undermine this policy even if the Supreme Court doesn't actually overturn its decision—by simply not enforcing it. "The U.S. Department of Justice will be as pivotal to protecting fair-housing standards as HUD," Capps notes.

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