Trump targets the Fair Housing Act during a pandemic, thanks to National Review

On June 30, President Donald Trump fired off a seemingly random tweet declaring that “Corrupt Joe Biden” was going to destroy America’s suburbs with “the AFFH regulation,” a reference to the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s protection titled Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing requiring “that federal agencies and federal grantees further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act.”

Trump targets the Fair Housing Act's "AFFH regulation"

Citation Screenshot via Twitter

Trump seems to be echoing National Review writer Stanley Kurtz, who wrote on June 30 that Biden aimed to “abolish the suburbs” with the AFFH rule. Kurtz's assertion slightly echoes his false prediction from 2012 that then-President Barack Obama was “working to get rid of” the suburbs. Nonetheless, on July 1, Kurtz published another piece congratulating Trump for adopting his anti-housing hobby horse, even though the Trump administration already suspended enforcement of the rule in 2018 and essentially proposed eliminating it in January. 

Memorably, Trump was first mentioned in The New York Times in 1973 in a story about the Department of Justice suing him and his father for violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Housing rights activists, and at least 30 Democrats in the House of Representatives, have denounced the Trump administration’s prior attempts to modify, suspend, or eliminate the AFFH protections. The National Fair Housing Alliance noted that the AFFH protection was not effectively enforced until 2015, underscoring what the Alliance for Housing Justice called the “intentionally cruel and destructive” nature of the Trump administration’s proposed rule change in January. The AHJ statement said plans to roll back AFFH “would further an already devastating affordable housing crisis” to keep protecting “the profits of developers, speculators, and billionaires.” 

Although reaction to Trump’s tweet has been muted so far, protecting fair housing access is doubly important as we battle the coronavirus pandemic, during which millions are already in danger of losing their homes. Mass unemployment has created a nationwide housing crisis that the Republican-led Senate has failed to act on, despite attempts by Democrats in both chambers.