Nearly a month after his initial tweet threatening to end the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, President Trump has made good on his promise.
“I am happy to inform all of the people living their suburban lifestyle dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low-income housing built in your neighborhood,” Trump tweeted on July 29.
“Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down,” Trump added in a second tweet. “I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”
…Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
His tweet quickly garnered more than 28,000 retweets and comments, with many of the top responses slamming the president’s moves to remove or weaken Obama-era U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development policies.
“Having been stripped of opportunities for generations in this country, people of color disproportionately need low-income housing,” replied medical doctor and activist Eugene Gu. “They have every right to live the ‘Suburban Lifestyle Dream’ that white people who fled the cities enjoy.”
“Trump is, at his core, a white supremacist,” Gu added in his tweet with nearly 9,000 likes. “That’s why Trump denied fair and equal housing to African Americans who wanted a chance to live in his properties in New York City.”
“Trump is extending his racist biases to the entire country and depriving people of color their opportunities to live where they want to affordably,” he concluded.
There were also a number of supporters who wrote simple messages, such as “Thank you, POTUS.”
California brokerage Ashby & Graff Real Estate called the president’s tweet “racist” in a tweet of its own.
This is racist and must be called out as such. https://t.co/DL06cvMx79
— Ashby & Graff Real Estate (@AshbyGraff) July 29, 2020
In a statement, the brokerage said the president’s tweet “used language with thinly-veiled references to perpetuating housing discrimination.”
“We need more real estate firms and brokers to rise up and speak out against this latest assault on fair housing. It is also urgent that the National Association of Realtors and all state and local Realtor associations come out against this type of racist and divisive language,” Ashby & Graff said.
“This is exactly our wheelhouse and so if we do not stand up against this, what exactly is it that we do stand for?”
According to a HUD primer, the AFFH rule provided a framework for local governments, states, and public housing agencies to follow through on pre-existing AFFH legislation included in the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
The current AFFH rule requires all local, state, and public housing officials to use the Affirmatively Fair Housing Assessment Tool, which uses HUD data and questionnaires to help leaders identify “patterns of integration and segregation; racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty; disparities in access to opportunity; and disproportionate housing needs, as well as the contributing factors for those issues.”
“By fixing the old Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, localities now have the flexibility to devise housing plans that fit their unique needs and provide families with more housing choices within their reach,” Secretary Carson said in January. “Mayors know their communities best, so we are empowering them to make housing decisions that meet their unique needs, not a mandate from the federal government.”
“Having said that, if a community fails to improve housing choice, HUD stands ready to enforce the Fair Housing Act and pursue action against any party that violates the law,” Carson added.
In January, HUD released a new 84-page plan that stripped the assessment tool and reporting requirements, with the aim of giving local officials greater “flexibility” in evaluating housing discrimination and creating a plan of action.
However, Trump shunned HUD’s revised plan and is allegedly working on a new plan, according to a Politico report released on July 23. The president has yet to announce what the details are, beyond his latest tweet announcing the repeal of AFFH.
As mentioned in a previous Inman article, the public doesn’t have any say in the repeal of the AFFH rule due to “an Administrative Procedure Act that exempts rules related to grants from notice-and-comment requirements.”
Mere hours after Trump’s announcement, the National Low Income Housing Coalition shredded the president’s decision, saying it “promotes segregation and housing inequality.” NLIHC also reposted a joint letter from July 23 that included statements from the nation’s largest fair housing organization leaders.
“At a moment when much of the nation is calling for sweeping reforms to overcome structural racism and achieve greater racial justice and equity, the administration is seeking to eviscerate the legal requirement to achieve greater desegregation and housing equity,” the letter read. “The president’s action today is especially egregious during the coronavirus pandemic when millions of families of color are experiencing disproportionate income and job loss and are at greater risk of being evicted from their homes and becoming homeless.”
The National Association of Realtors and the California Association of Realtors have advocated for the reinstatement of the AFFH rule with public statements supporting the work of fair housing advocates.
“As Realtors, we have seen progress made regarding fair housing over the last 50 years throughout our communities in California,” said C.A.R. President Jeanne Radsick in an emailed statement to Inman. “However, the long history of discrimination in housing continues to play a major role with respect to vast disparities within many communities and among many populations statewide.”
“There is still much work to be done, and C.A.R. is committed to working with its members to continuing to lead in the fight against housing and racial discrimination so all Americans can achieve the dream of homeownership,” Radsick added.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from Ashby & Graff Real Estate.