The Trump administration has ditched the Obama administration’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule (AFFH). As we have often reported, AFFH is a vast social engineering project that enables the federal government to order more than 1,200 cities and counties that accept any part of annual community development block grants to rezone neighborhoods along income and racial criteria. It thus allows unaccountable federal bureaucrats to dictate who lives where, in order to create racially and economically balanced neighborhoods. It effectively abolishes self-government in the suburbs.
I’m surprised that it took the Trump administration three-and-half years to revoke AFFH. To be fair, though, Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development effectively rendered AFFH a dead letter during those three-and-half years. The important thing was to take it off the books before Trump leaves office.
With that now accomplished, AFFH can become an important issue in the presidential election. The Biden campaign will claim that scrapping it is evidence that Trump supports housing discrimination — more evidence of his alleged racism.
But housing discrimination is the refusal to allow people, because of their race, to live in units they can afford to buy or rent. It’s not housing discrimination for a town to abstain, for example, from building low income housing in an affluent area, as has been mandated under AFFH.
That’s why, as Stanley Kurtz observes, Democrats don’t want to talk about what is actually in Obama’s AFFH. It isn’t about preventing housing discrimination, it’s about telling Americans where and how to live.
The Trump campaign’s task will be explain this to voters. The issue is a technical one in ways that defunding the police, for example, isn’t. Even if the Democrats can’t make the racism charge stick, they can muddy the waters.
That’s why I agree with Stanley that “what’s needed now is a presidential speech explaining what Obama-Biden’s AFFH really did, why it was right to end it, and what will happen to the suburbs if Joe Biden brings his AFFH back.” The speech might also explain that Biden has embraced ideas for federal control of housing that go even further than AFFH.
For now, Trump has taken the necessary first step to make AFFH a campaign issue. America’s suburbs are thought by many to hold the key to the presidential race. Trump now has an issue that, potentially, will resonate strongly in his favor with suburban voters.