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The Trump Administration says it is revoking an Obama-era housing regulation designed to eliminate racial disparities in the suburbs, a move that fair housing advocates have decried as an election year stunt designed to manipulate the fears of white voters.

In a late-July tweet addressed to “The Suburban Housewives of America,” President Donald Trump made his intended audience clear. “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” he said. “I will preserve it, and make it even better!”

Trump has repeatedly characterized the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation as an existential threat to the suburban way of life that will bring about more crime and lower home prices.

In a statement, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said the regulation known as AFFH, was “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.”

It will be replaced by a new rule that reduces the burden on local jurisdictions to prove that they are actively taking steps to address historical patterns of racial segregation in order to qualify for HUD financing.

“Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs,” Carson said.

The 2015 rule established a 92-question survey and grading tool requiring local jurisdictions to assess their own racial and economic disparities and present detailed plans on how to address them. Carson said the jurisdictions were “forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting.”

The issue has been a long-standing issue for Carson, and fair housing advocates say the program never truly got off the ground because Carson suspended its implementation shortly after taking office.

Fair housing advocates said the new regulations water down the previous requirements to the point of meaninglessness.

“What’s surprising is they’re going this far and essentially rendering the rule null and void. This is as far as this administration could have possibly gone,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It feels like a real gutting of the rule.”

Debby Goldberg, vice president of housing policy and special projects for the National Fair Housing Alliance, said that HUD has removed almost any oversight or burden of proof for jurisdictions to show they are addressing racial disparities.

“They’re not even going to check. It’s completely hands off. It’s completely the honor system,” she said. “And for jurisdictions that really want to figure this out, it’s almost totally useless.”

The topic has become a potential hot-button issue in an election year as Trump has repeatedly said the rule would force the construction of low-income housing in the suburbs.

“Your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise,” Trump said. “People have worked all their lives to get into a community, and now they’re going to watch it go to hell. Not going to happen, not while I’m here.”

HUD had already floated the idea of changing the rule earlier this year, but ultimately decided to cancel it entirely. Fair housing advocates says the latest HUD move attempts to skip over the traditional months-long notice and comment process where stakeholders are inviting to weigh in on a proposed rule change.

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