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What Trump's Campaign Against 'Abolish the Suburbs' Was Actually About

A new fair housing rule winds back desegregation requirements by several decades — and flouts the review process, setting up a legal challenge.

A new rule announced by U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson that rolls back desegregation protections is the policy Donald Trump has been promising to avoid an alleged threat to"abolish the suburbs.” 

A new rule announced by U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson that rolls back desegregation protections is the policy Donald Trump has been promising to avoid an alleged threat to"abolish the suburbs.” 

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Since January, the Trump administration has been laying the groundwork for a new national policy on fair housing. First, U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson pushed back a compliance deadline for communities under an Obama-era law. Then he introduced a new draft rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, or AFFH, that’s come under fire from cities as it winds its way through the federal machine.

The goal of such policy is to fulfill an obligation under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that requires communities that receive federal funds work to undo their patterns of residential segregation. But President Donald Trump has latched onto the rule in recent weeks, saying that the enforcement of the desegregation mandate is an effort to “abolish the suburbs.” He has made this complaint a cornerstone in his bid for reelection. In a June 30 tweet, the president threatened to do away with the AFFH rule altogether. “Not fair to homeowners, I may END!”