“There Goes The Neighborhood”: Right-Wing Media Reactions To HUD's Neighborhood Diversity Plan

Right-wing media outlets are attacking a new rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designed to increase diversity in American neighborhoods, calling it an attempt by President Obama to dictate where people live. But the program merely provides grant money to encourage communities to provide affordable housing and greater access to community resources.

HUD Announces Plan To Encourage Diversity In American Neighborhoods

The Hill: Obama Administration Moves “Forward With Regulations Designed To Help Diversify” American Neighborhoods. According to a June 11 article in The Hill, HUD will issue the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule later this month, “aimed at ending decades of deep-rooted segregation around the country”:

The regulations would use grant money as an incentive for communities to build affordable housing in more affluent areas while also taking steps to upgrade poorer areas with better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as part of a gentrification of those communities. [The Hill6/11/15]

Right-Wing Media Attack HUD's Housing Program As “Obama's Orwellian Suburbs” 

Fox's Megyn Kelly: Obama Will Strong-Arm Communities That Are “Too White [And] Too Privileged.” On the June 11 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly warned that the Obama administration plans to force “too white [and] too privileged” communities to embrace diversity “whether the communities want it or not.” Fox contributor Marc Thiessen agreed, saying Obama's “insidious” plan will “bribe or blackmail” local leaders into diversifying neighborhoods:

THIESSEN: He wants to organize your community from Washington, D.C. I mean, this is an insidious idea. What they're trying to do is engage in social engineering of local communities from Washington, D.C. They're going to take data -- collect data on the racial makeup, social makeup, economic makeup of communities -- and then either bribe or blackmail them into changing their zoning policies.  I mean, this is a fundamental assault on freedom, on local government, on the principles that this country was built on.

KELLY:  They don't want, quote, 'unequal neighborhoods.' Unequal neighborhoods. They think too many communities are too white, too privileged, with too many big Mcmansions. And they want to diversify the communities whether the communities want it or not. [Fox News, The Kelly File6/11/15]

Fox's Stossel: “Now This Will Be More [Money] For Bribes” To Desegregate. On The June 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox Business host John Stossel called the HUD rule “bribes” to end segregation. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor06/11/15

Fox News' Special Report Used A Graphic Labeled “There Goes The Neighborhood” In Reference To The Program. While Special Report anchor Bret Baier introduced the HUD story on his June 11 broadcast, a graphic in the segment on the screen said “There Goes The Neighborhood”:

[Fox News, Special Report6/11/15]

The Wall Street Journal: Obama's Fair Housing Program Will “Dictate ... Where People Live.”  During a June 11 discussion on The Wall Street Journal's online show Opinion Journal, editorial board member and host Mary Kissel described Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing as “a new rule that will allow federal regulators to dictate where housing, transportation, and basically where people live.” The Manhattan Institute's Jason Riley said the rule will create more problems:

RILEY: It breaks, really, the first rule of housing, which is you live where you can pay the rent, Mary. And when you try to mess with that, however well-intentioned your attempts are, you create more problems than you solve. We have a history in this country of trying to social engineer in this way, taking poor families, putting them in nicer neighborhoods and hoping that that will help address poverty. In fact, it has created all sorts of racial tension and stress in these communities where they've tried it. 

KISSEL: Now, this is the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it's called “HUD.” They're going to take over so called local zoning laws. Jason, what exactly will they do? Will they go to cities and just say, “Build the train tracks here, build the public housing there?” What kind of power would it give them?  

RILEY: Well, they want to use subsidies as leverage. In other words, they'll fund, they'll give money to communities that build affordable housing where these social engineers want it to be. And we also have to keep in mind what this is not about. This is not about housing discrimination, Mary. This is not about a black family trying to buy a home in a wealthy neighborhood and the real estate agent not showing them homes that are available. We've largely taken care of that problem. We passed the Fair Housing Act back in the 1960s. If that happens to you today, you have legal recourse. That's not what this is about. This is about color coding neighborhoods for aesthetic reasons, and that's where the tension comes in. Wealthy families of any color don't mind someone moving in if they can afford to live there. What they don't like are people being shoehorned into neighborhoods where they otherwise can't afford to live. [The Wall Street JournalOpinion Journal6/11/15]

World Net Daily: Obama's HUD “To Regulate 'Diversity' In White Suburbs.” According to an article on the far-right conspiracy website WND, this most recent rule is a manifestation of the Obama administration's desire “to promote racial quotas in white suburban neighborhoods” and “force communities to house the nation's burgeoning population of new immigrants.”[WND, 6/11/15]

RedState: Obama's Real Motivation Is “To Punish Rich People For Being Rich.” A June 11 RedState.com post called the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule the latest of the Obama administration's “terrible ideas” which “have demonstrated that he simply does not believe in capitalism or the free market as a philosophical matter.” The post claims the program would, “involve the Federal Government in the makeup of all neighborhoods across the country,” and that it “is designed flat out to punish rich people for being rich and the ultimate result of this program may very well be the decimation of the real estate sector of the market.” [RedState, 6/11/15]

Sean Hannity: Obama Plans To Diversify America's Wealthier Neighborhoods By Providing Free Housing To People Who Can't Afford It. On the June 11 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity ridiculed the rule by talking about his experience living in inexpensive housing, calling it “great.” 

HANNITY: The Obama administration is moving forward with regulations designed to “diversify America's wealthier neighborhoods,” which, how do you do that?


If you want to build out a new neighborhood, does that mean for every two houses you build, you have to build a free house, for somebody that can't afford to live in that neighborhood? You know, all throughout my life, I had to live that weren't the ideal place that I wanted to live -- you know, my first apartment was $300 bucks.


I'd look down [the alley], watch the rats run around down there, it was great. It was like entertainment. Roaches in the room;  the room was as big as the bathroom here. That's how gross it was. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show6/11/15]

In The Past, Right-Wing Media Have Attacked Efforts To Diversify Neighborhoods

In 2013, HUD Announced Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Plan 

HUD Secretary Donovan: HUD Is Pushing To “Expand Access To High Opportunity Neighborhoods And Draw Attention To Investment Possibilities In Underserved Communities.” From Sec. Shaun Donovan's July 16, 2013 speech before the NAACP (emphasis added):

That's why I am proud to announce that this week we will publish a new rule to bring affirmatively further fair housing into the 21st century. This rule focuses on the traditional tenets of discrimination -- and also gets at the essential issues of access to opportunity so imperative to 21st century equity.

Specifically, this new rule will:

• provide a clear definition of what it means to affirmatively further fair housing;

• outline a standard framework with well-defined parameters; and

• offer targeted guidance and assistance to help grantees complete this assessment.

Perhaps most important -- for the first time ever -- HUD is providing data for every neighborhood in the nation, detailing what access African American families, and other members of protected classes, have to the community assets I talked about earlier -- including jobs, schools and transit.

With this data and the improved AFFH process, we can expand access to high opportunity neighborhoods and draw attention to investment possibilities in underserved communities. [Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan Before the NAACP's 104th Annual Convention, HUD.gov via Media Matters7/16/13]

Right-Wing Media Labelled The Plan “Tyranny”

Fox's Stirewalt: HUD Rule Is Just “Diversity For Diversity's Sake.” On the July 24 edition of Fox News' America Live, Fox correspondent Shannon Bream and digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt said of the HUD rule:

STIREWALT: This is, if you will, a report card, a scorecard for the administration and for housing regulators to look at how well communities are doing at being integrated. In the old days, the idea was punishing people who excluded minorities from majority white neighborhoods, whether they used now illegal covenants in property transfers, you may not sell to people of this type or that type, or realtors who refused to show certain houses to African-American families. Those things have been illegal since the mid-60s.

This is something different than that. This says they want to encourage diversity -- for diversity's sake, in some cases -- in neighborhoods. So it's not just about punishing people for keeping folks out, it's about punishing people for failing to bring folks in.

BREAM: Okay, so if we see a large concentration of, say, an all-white neighborhood, the feds now suggesting that they want to encourage some diversity there, they want to see different color dots there. But what about in reverse? If we see neighborhoods in which minorities have chosen that they have commonality and that they live together, will they also be pushing those communities to integrate to also be more racially diverse?

STIREWALT: One would think not. [Fox News, America Live7/24/13]

Conservative Radio Host Mark Levin: New HUD Rule Is “Tyranny.” On the July 22, 2013 edition of Levin's radio show, Levin argued that the HUD rule is a form of “communism” and claimed that “tyranny is here.” Levin warned that HUD Secretary Donovan “talks like a Marxist,” continuing: 

As you know, as Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of HUD whom I've never heard of before, 'It's a 21st century approach to fair housing.' Sure it is. I think they call it communism.


Folks, I'm trying to tell you something ... It's here. It's here. Tyranny is here. And it's spreading. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Mark Levin Show7/22/13]

Fox News Contributor Katie Pavlich: HUD's “Social Engineering” Failed The Poor And AFFH Will Just “Keep Them Poor.”  Pavlich, a Fox News contributor and news editor at Townhall.com, decried the new HUD rule as a “big government” attempt at social engineering. She wrote:

With the recent bankruptcy filing by Detroit, you'd think governments everywhere would take a step back a re-evaluate central planning. Instead, the federal government is doing the opposite through a new social engineering program that will map every community in the country, all in the name of diversity.


The American Dream doesn't exist in big government and bureaucratically bloated cities and communities because it doesn't have an opportunity to exist. This regulation will make it worse. The only thing that public housing has done for poor urban communities in the past 50 years is keep them poor. There's nothing “fair” about it. Bringing new ideas and the free market into communities and neighborhood improves them, not central HUD planning and government funding from Washington. [Townhall.com, 7/23/13]