President Donald Trump promised on Twitter on Wednesday that an Obama-era rule intended to fight racial segregation would no longer “bother” suburban Americans.
The inflammatory tweets follow Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development announcing last week it was terminating the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, a 2015 rule that required local governments to identify and address patterns of racial segregation outlawed under the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
“I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” Trump wrote Wednesday, “that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” then said in another tweet that crime would go down.
The racist undertones in Trump’s tweet were obvious to those working in the fair housing space.
“Vile, despicable, racist,” Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), tweeted in response.
“Housing justice and racial justice are inextricably linked,” she noted in a statement last week when HUD announced it was reversing the AFFH rule. “The AFFH regulation was an important step to rectify decades of racist housing policies that created today’s segregated neighborhoods and all its associated harm to children, families and the country.”
The NLIHC is one of 14 fair housing and anti-racism groups that issued a joint statement condemning the Trump administration’s actions last week.
This is Trump’s latest attempt to make appeals to suburbanites, whom he’s falling out of favor with, polls indicate. If those numbers hold on Election Day, it would mark the Republican Party’s worst defeat in the suburbs in decades, Politico noted. Many suburban neighborhoods, notably those in some battleground states, are far more diverse than they were decades ago.
During remarks at the White House earlier this month, Trump used talking points that mimicked decades-old arguments against integration.
“Your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise,” he said on July 16. “Joe Biden and his bosses from the radical left want to significantly multiply what they’re doing now and what will be the end result is you will totally destroy the beautiful suburbs. Suburbia will be no longer as we know it.”
Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has made campaign commitments to spend $640 billion over 10 years to fight housing insecurity and discrimination.
Fox News has also fueled Trump’s arguments that Biden’s plans are an attack on suburbia.
“Democrats want to abolish the suburbs, they are too clean and nice, and therefore by definition they are racist,” Tucker Carlson said on his show on July 9.
Trump’s move to end the AFFH rule, which sought to make fairly prices housing easier for everyone to access, comes amid financial uncertainty for millions of Americans as the U.S. plunges deeper into the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, another 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, marking the first increase in those numbers in 16 weeks.