America has a housing problem. Homelessness runs rampant in large cities such as New York City and San Francisco, and stark racial and economic divides exist between urban and suburban areas in many other places as well.
Housing shortages due to crippling local zoning laws significantly contribute to the burden families living in large urban areas bear. While the loosening of such overzealous regulations will not alleviate these peoples’ burdens entirely, many see removing restrictive zoning laws as a strategic first step toward increasing the availability of affordable housing.
However, by repealing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, Donald Trump is only exacerbating this problem.
Just last year, there was bipartisan agreement that the best way to deregulate cumbersome zoning laws that artificially suppress the housing supply would be through local policy changes such as:
- Creating higher-density zoning districts where the infrastructure already exists
- Reducing off-street parking requirements
- Establishing by-right development
- Streamlining permitting processes
On the right, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson and Senator Todd Young have both pushed policy designed to further deregulate the housing industry. Meanwhile, on the left, politicians like Senator Cory Booker and Senator Elizabeth Warren have also looked to incentivize local governments to deregulate by increasing federal spending.
So why did the Trump Administration change course on affordable housing? The official White House fact sheet claims that the AFFH rule “took away decision-making from local communities.” Further, they claim that “AFFH would have imposed a massive regulatory burden on localities, required high density zoning, eliminated single family zoning, and destroyed our suburbs.”
By framing AFFH as a massive regulatory burden, the Trump administration attempts to claim that they are deregulating zoning laws. In reality, the last three words give Trump’s true intentions away.
Trump’s rescindment of the AFFH rule will not help develop more affordable housing, but rather is an attempt to appeal to suburban, NIMBY voters who are concerned about their property values. Trump has effectively admitted as much himself multiple times on Twitter.
The truth is that Donald Trump has struggled among suburban voters—especially suburban women with whom he is polling at 30%. Trump won the suburban vote in 2016, but is down by an average of 15 points among suburban voters at this point.
By pushing policy that will make property values rise and supposedly lower crime rates, Trump is attempting to appeal to this coalition at the cost of further development of affordable housing in American cities.
Once again, it is important to note that the Trump Administration’s actions were largely in lockstep with the Obama Administration’s position—until these past few months. We will see in November whether the President’s housing gamble will pay off electorally, but for all practical purposes.
Let us hope we can eventually return to bipartisan solutions on housing.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.