Meanwhile, the Trump regime continues to reverse every Obama-era policy it can find, and in the end few people in the cabinet will have done more damage to black people in America than HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
In a press release on Monday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development made its firmest commitment yet to tear down the Obama-era framework for enforcing the Fair Housing Act.
In a public notice dated Thursday, Aug. 9, HUD outlined its reasons for quashing the 2015 “affirmatively furthering fair housing” rule (AFFH), which had been the strongest effort in decades to crack down on segregation and discriminatory practices in and by American cities and suburbs. HUD Secretary Ben Carson cited the Obama administration’s “unworkable requirements” in a statement, saying the rule “actually impeded the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing.” Under AFFH, Carson said, cities and other HUD grantees had “inadequate autonomy” according to his understanding of federalism.
Neither criticism, fair housing experts say, is accurate. The AFFH rule told cities to set fair housing goals, but not how to meet them. It was flexible on doctrinaire questions like: Should assistance go to people or places?
Neither did the rule seem likely to dampen the supply of affordable housing. “It’s important and worthwhile and corresponded to the importance of what it’s designed to do,” says Andrea Ponsor, the COO of Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, which advocates for the preservation and production of affordable rental housing. “We were very supportive of the rule and we don’t feel like it had its opportunity to work yet.”
It's the usual conservative bromide: protections against discrimination are always bad for business.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Monday, Carson framed the change as a way to bolster housing production across the board. “I want to encourage the development of mixed-income multifamily dwellings all over the place,” he told the paper. While it’s true that the affordability crisis is in part rooted in housing starts per capita hitting a 60-year low, the Fair Housing Act is intended to attack segregation, not scarcity.
That comment does not mesh with Carson’s established philosophy. In his only published commentary on housing policy before his appointment to HUD, he called the 2015 AFFH rule “social engineering” that would “fundamentally change the nature of some communities from primarily single-family to largely apartment-based areas.” Fair housing advocates would have found that a dreamy, if outlandish scenario. Recipients of Community Development Block Grants have been required for decades to “affirmatively further fair housing,” but have rarely if ever been punished by HUD for not doing so.
A quick glance at the notice reveals that while the secretary contradicts himself, the outlines of a policy—to the extent they can be read that way—hew closely to conservative orthodoxy on housing, which is to reject federal efforts to demolish the walls that wealthy white suburbs have built. HUD’s new approach does not appear likely to increase production or decrease segregation. Instead, it poses a series of questions that appear almost painfully rudimentary on the heels of the Obama administration’s six-year effort to draft the AFFH rule (and 50 years of rampant local disregard for the FHA), such as:
• “Instead of a data-centric approach, should jurisdictions be permitted to rely upon their own experiences?”
• “How much deference should jurisdictions be provided in establishing objectives to address obstacles to identified fair housing goals, and associated metrics and milestones for measuring progress?”
One of HUD’s new goals is to “provide for greater local control,” a phrase understood to conjure the strict, racially-motivated land use laws that were developed by American suburbs to keep out minority populations.
So protecting affordable housing from discrimination is destroying affordable housing, the same way protecting lenders from discrimination by banks and mortgage shops "caused the 2008 Great Depression". The "Community Reinvestment Act wrecked the economy because banks were forced to give loans to poor black and Latino people who couldn't afford them" is the worst zombie lie of the last decade.
Now Carson is resurrecting it to do the same thing to housing. It's sickening. But this is who the Trump regime is.