Affordable Housing Is Needed in Suburbs
Trump’s scare tactics and policies could prevent America from meeting its needs.
President Donald Trump is attempting to undermine the very fabric of our communities, including the diversity of our nation’s suburbs, by using unfounded, hurtful scare tactics.
In comments he made in late July, first on Twitter and then at a Texas rally, he said, “It’s been hell for suburbia,” and that “people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream [would] no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low-income housing built in your neighborhood.” He was referring to his administration’s move to eliminate a program initiated by President Obama aimed at fighting racial injustice and segregation in suburban housing.
More egregious than words, however, is the administration’s attempt to water-down the 1968 Fair Housing Act by replacing the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule with the Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice Rule. Behind the mild-mannered title are provisions that undo the transparency and accountability of elected officials, planning boards and city administrators. A move that could seriously hurt those organizations that provide affordable housing and those hardworking people who need affordable homes.
Across our great nation, in cities, suburbs and rural communities, the need for safe, healthy and affordable housing has never been greater. Housing costs are rising all across the country. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that a full-time worker needs to earn over $23 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. And, since the Great Recession of 2007-2009, the need for access to affordable rental and homeownership opportunities in suburban communities is at historical highs. This is because poverty in the suburbs is at all-time highs, as documented by the Brookings Institute.
Public, civic and business leaders recognize the value of having economic, demographic and social diversity in suburban areas, and they support the development and preservation of affordable housing through inclusionary housing policy and public investment.
To make cities and suburbs more racially diverse, equitable, and inclusive, fair access to housing is essential. Let us seize this moment to educate rather than segregate ourselves. A person’s racial, social or economic background should never prevent where someone is welcome or feels at home.
I ask that my fellow affordable housing advocates, concerned citizens and lawmakers condemn the President’s recent statements about affordable housing and demand a return to the goals of the AFFH rules. I urge you to stand up to support affordable housing at this critical moment in history.
Mark Angelini is President of Mercy Housing Lakefront, covering the region of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Mercy Housing is the largest nonprofit owner of affordable rental housing in the country, and develops, finances and operates program-enriched housing for families, seniors and people with special needs.