Obama tried to remake the political landscape by forcing rural and suburban communities to build more low-income housing. But in just one week, this Leftist social engineering experiment will be finally dismantled.
People tend to move to the suburbs for a reason. They want to have quick access to cities for work or entertainment without actually having to live in an urban area. For decades, this has been the American Dream: a suburban home with a white picket fence.
But during the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had a bad idea.
‘What if we turned the suburbs into quasi-urban environments? What if suburban communities were forced by the Federal government to prioritize diversity and promote social justice?’
Enter the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. HUD describes it as “an effective planning approach to aid program participants in taking meaningful actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination.”
The rule attached strings to the Community Development Block Grant program, a fund used by more than 1,300 municipalities around the country. In order to have access to this kind of Federal funding, towns and cities had to submit to a formal review process to determine whether new developments were sufficiently tackling the issues of segregation and discrimination.
This is nothing but a form of social engineering. Leftists howl at the idea of middle and upper class Americans gentrifying urban areas and forcing lower-income residents out. But they have no problem doing the opposite: forcing more lower-income housing developments onto rural communities. In fact, they are actually financing it…
This isn’t just a Not In My Backyard issue. This is about government-led social engineering.
While the AFFH rule talks about economic diversity, the program focuses specifically on racial and ethnic diversity.
I just went through the process of buying a home. It was an excruciatingly lengthy and difficult process. As my wife and I were looking at houses, we quickly realized that the kind of house that we wanted was simply out of our reach. We ended up choosing a fixer-upper in a nice neighborhood and have spent the past year trying to earn more sweat equity.
The point is that at no point did race come up in the buying process. Being a Caucasian couple didn't open up doors to us in certain neighborhoods. Banks cared about our debt-to-income ratio, not our ancestry.
Is there a lack of affordable housing in many parts of the country? Absolutely. My wife and I moved from Colorado to Texas specifically because we could afford triple the house in the Lone Star State. But race has absolutely nothing to do with the lack of affordable housing.
But under the AFFH rule, communities are branded as racist and cut off from Federal funding if they do not agree to zone out a sufficient amount of “affordable” housing.
Not surprisingly, that can change the character of a town. Putting rental units into an area that is exclusively single family homes can tank property values. But it can also change school districts, increase the burden on police and fire services, strain infrastructure and utilities, and yes, even alter the political landscape.
It is no secret that surburban towns tend to lean to the right, politically. And there is nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade and saying that low-income families, at least historically, have voted for Democrat candidates. The political implications of the AFFH have not been lost on suburban towns. Introducing even just a couple hundred families into suburban towns can end up flipping the political control of a municipality.
Luckily, the Trump administration is rolling back much of the AFFH. HUD Secretary Ben Carson suspended the AFFH’s implementation in 2018 and announced he was taking the Department in a different direction. "Since issuance of the final rule, however, HUD has concluded that the current regulations are ineffective in helping program participants to meet this obligation,” the announcement explained.
Developers have long claimed that the AFFH was suffocating them and preventing long-planned projects. Abandoning the AFFH rules would allow towns and cities to control their own zoning and development.
Liberal organizations tried to block Ben Carson from rolling back the AFFH rule, but their lawsuit was tossed out in court. On January 7, 2020, HUD formally revealed its new rule change. Moving forward, the AFFH program will no longer deal with racial or ethnic diversity or discrimination. Instead, HUD will focus on on deregulation to help municipalities provide more affordable housing options.
The official rule change was published in the Federal Register on January 14, 2020. By law, HUD must allow for a 60 day public comment period, and review those comments, before the new regulation can go into full effect.
The public comment period closes on March 16, 2020. If you want to weigh in and submit a comment, you can do so by clicking this link.