What Does Trump Think the ‘Suburban Lifestyle Dream’ Means?Breaking News
tags: racism, segregation, suburban history, Fair Housing, metropolitan history
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump took a victory lap on his new fair housing policy, which he has said will preserve communities from progressive efforts to “abolish the suburbs.”
Writing with a developer’s sense of bombast, Trump took to Twitter to proclaim that people living out the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream” will “no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”
Last week, his administration scrapped an Obama-era regulation known as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which was designed to better enforce the decades-old federal mandate to actively reduce racial segregation. The president’s message appeared to be a barely coded appeal to suburban “homevoters” — those property-owning members of the electorate who prioritize their housing investment when deciding political issues. “Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule,” Trump wrote in the tweet, adding a cherry on top: “Enjoy!”
Over the past few weeks, Trump has been positioning the suburbs as the key to his chances for reelection. When it comes to housing segregation — or “neighborhood choice,” as the new rule puts it — the president is saying the quiet part out loud, through a bullhorn. When the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development first moved to revise the rule in 2017, officials said that the regulation was too burdensome. Housing Secretary Ben Carson published an op-ed this week underscoring his efforts to “tend the regulatory landscape.” Trump has instead articulated a clearer purpose, in the form of a promise to white suburban homeowners: His administration won’t require communities to break down the patterns of segregation that work to their advantage.
Trump is now betting all-in on the suburbs. It’s a risky wager. While many neighborhoods are still segregated, suburban America as a whole — as a region and as a polity — is diversifying rapidly. The Suburban Lifestyle Dream that dwells within the president’s psyche may be a Fading Demographic Reality.
“On this issue, just like on other issues like immigration, he’s trying to appeal to people who haven’t looked carefully into these issues for maybe 20 or 30 years,” says William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America. “In this decade, suburbs are a microcosm of America.”
Simply put, the suburbs aren’t as white as they used to be. The growth of minority populations in suburban areas has changed their appearance and their politics. By 2010, in fact, within the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., there were more Black people living in the suburbs than inside inner cities. That was already the case for Latino and Asian populations, groups that have been steadily rising in the suburbs for decades now.
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