EXCLUSIVE: Trump, Ben Carson Are ‘Tearing Down’ An Obama-Era Housing Rule Accused Of Funneling Money Into Wealthy Areas

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Christian Datoc Senior White House Correspondent
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The Trump administration will end the Obama administration’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule Thursday morning, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and senior HUD officials explained Wednesday to the Daily Caller.

“At the request of the President, HUD will be tearing down the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule,” Carson told the Daily Caller. “In nearly every case, it is a fact that local governments are more adequately equipped to deal with their community’s unique needs than any unelected bureaucrat in Washington.”

“President Trump made a promise to preserve America’s neighborhoods, I am pleased to report that promise has been kept.” (EXCLUSIVE: White House’s Deregulation Effort Specifically Boosts Black America’s COVID Recovery, Ben Carson Says)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 25: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson (2L) speaks before U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing a White House Council on eliminating regulatory barriers to affordable housing, in the Oval Office at the White House on June 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. DC. The council, which will be made up of members of eight federal agencies, will reportedly be tasked with easing local barriers to the private sector of creating housing, according to published reports. Also picture are Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) (L) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 25: (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The AFFH rule was added to the decades-old Fair Housing Act by the Obama administration in an effort to hold local HUD grantees accountable to the idea of furthering affordable housing by producing and maintaining assessments of fair housing practices. Those assessments saddled HUD’s payroll with an estimated 64 additional employees, whose salaries cost American taxpayers up to $15 million a year.

Furthermore, the Trump administration argues the rule hurt low income Americans by forcing federal funds into wealthy areas, as numerous local jurisdictions opted out of the program due to the cost of producing reports, delivering them to HUD, and in many cases, forcing through zoning changes to maintain compliance.

Carson and senior HUD officials stated that the decision to roll back AFFH dated back to President Donald Trump’s first days in office. Carson originally suspended AFFH tools in 2018, and Trump further instructed Carson in January of 2020 to go as far as the law allows to terminate and replace the rule, without requiring Congressional action, senior HUD officials said. The president has recently voiced his opinion on the subject, tweeting he was considering ending the rule in June.

The rule change still allows jurisdictions to receive grants, and the policing mechanism boils down the roughly 270 page guidance document produced by the Obama administration into four key pillars: Fair housing must be safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.

In order to be eligible to receive housing grants, the jurisdictions must certify they will advance at least one of the aforementioned statutes. HUD officials, when asked by the Daily Caller how the administration plans on enforcing grantees advance fair housing, explained that while they won’t be launching a new enforcement body, they still plan to enforce rule violations in the same manner under which AFFH currently operates, namely public reporting.

HUD officials maintained that the rule change does not mean the administration is “abandoning” the principles outlined in the Fair Housing Act. Instead, they said that Trump and Carson are seeking to streamline the process in which local jurisdictions can quickly provide safe and affordable housing to people who need it most.

Since being tapped to lead HUD, Carson has taken significant steps to ensure fair housing aid be made available to those who truly need it. He and HUD accused and sued Facebook of violating the Fair Housing Act in 2019 by restricting housing-based ads by race and other factors. Carson has also cleared a significant backlog of Fair Housing complaints rolled over from the previous administration. Data provided to Daily Caller indicate that under Carson’s leadership, HUD has investigated and resolved 22,933 Fair Housing cases since January 2017.

US President Donald Trump takes part in a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019 as Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development looks on. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump takes part in a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 19, 2019 as Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development looks on. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought celebrated Carson’s action.

“President Trump’s roll back of the Obama Administration’s ‘war on the suburbs’ is a major win for the American people,” Vought told the Daily Caller Wednesday evening. “Washington should not have the power to social engineer our communities by leveraging federal resources. Thankfully, President Trump has stepped in to protect our neighborhoods, communities and families from the heavy hand of government.”

Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar and Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee offered similar praise to the Daily Caller of Carson and the Trump administration on the issue.

“Secretary Carson and President Trump have rightfully recognized the importance of rolling back Obama’s AFFH rule, which sought to extort localities for utopian demographic design. For years I have fought this effort by Democrats to socially engineer local neighborhoods for political power,” Gosar stated. “I fully support this Trump Administration rule that empowers local communities.”

“Every American should be free to choose where to live, and every community should be free to compete for new residents as they see fit,” Lee added. “What our communities do not need is another costly government mandate that makes it harder for local communities to govern. This reversal of President Obama’s burdensome housing rule is a strong step towards more affordable housing.”