On Wednesday, Donald Trump tried out a new pitch on the suburbanites he is desperate to win back over before November: Stick with me, and the Poors won’t be allowed to bother you! In an announcement on Twitter addressed to “all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” the president declared he has ended the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule.
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…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
The rule, part of the Fair Housing Act signed into law by Lyndon Johnson in 1968, was finalized by the Obama administration in 2015. It was intended to dismantle the racist systems that prevent people — usually poor and non-white people — from living in certain neighborhoods and accessing the level of public services available to their wealthier and whiter neighbors.
As former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro put it on Twitter last week: “The AFFH rule was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, and we finalized it at HUD to fulfill the promise of fair housing to every American. Trump is desperate, and he’s terminating it to play white identity politics in an election year.”
Designed to reverse the discriminatory outcomes of segregation and redlining, AFFH requires cities that receive federal funding to create goals to reduce segregation, and to track and publicly report their progress toward those goals.
Current HUD secretary Ben Carson recently suggested the rule is “a ruse for social engineering under the guise of desegregation.” His boss put it more plainly on Twitter: Trump opposes the AFFH — and seems to assume all suburbanites do too — because he thinks allowing low-income housing will lower property values.
The announcement comes amid a larger overture Trump is attempting to make toward suburban voters. He beat Hillary Clinton among such voters by 4 points in 2016. The pitch has included direct appeals on Twitter to the “Suburban Housewives of America” and ads like this one, depicting a woman attacked inside her big suburban home while on hold with 911. So far though, it doesn’t appear to be working: Trump is trailing Joe Biden by a whopping 25 points with suburban voters.