In a ploy to garner votes through fear-mongering, President Trump went on a racist Twitter tirade, attacking HUD’s mandate to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH). This mandate, which was instituted by the Fair Housing Act, obligates jurisdictions across the nation to use HUD funds to desegregate neighborhoods and promote access to equal housing opportunities for all Americans. Trump is using his platform and campaign to tap into his voters’ white fragility complexes, as well as their fear of minorities and diversity – all under the guise of preserving property values and the “Suburban Dream.” This action and his promises signal a return to Jim Crow, redlined, segregated-whites-only-neighborhoods.
AFFH was a principle established to enforce a largely ignored portion of the existing 1968 Fair Housing Act. This rule, established by the Obama Administration, made it mandatory for jurisdictions to conduct analyses and produce plans to address fair housing issues in their community. The rule also standardized the data and methods that jurisdictions could use to analyze their community’s housing patterns. By examining data on race, poverty, and access to education and employment, jurisdictions could identify barriers to integration and the unequal distribution of amenities (e.g. banks, grocery stores, schools, etc.) in order to develop a fair housing plan. Since the updated AFFH process was required beginning in 2015, Jefferson Parish, Kenner, and St. Charles Parish (as a consortium); and Slidell and St. Tammany Parish (as a consortium), and New Orleans all submitted and continue to uphold this planning process, even though President Trump suspended AFFH back in 2018.
New Orleans took its first step in Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing with the help of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center by writing its 2016 Assessment of Fair Housing Plan. One of the major goals that New Orleans established in the AFH was to “lower barriers to expanded affordable housing in high opportunity areas through inclusive strategies.” In order to do so, the City of New Orleans developed strategies to combat the lasting systemic effects of the Jim Crow-era policies that barred minorities from high-opportunity neighborhoods and limited their access to economic mobility through housing. These policies disproportionality affected Black New Orleanians, forcing them to live in areas prone to flooding and areas that have limited access to transit.
New Orleans began taking its first steps to combat segregated neighborhoods by introducing the Smart Housing Mix, an incentive program that grants lower-income residents access to well-resourced neighborhoods. The Smart Housing Mix is being used to address the 30%-50% increase in Black displacement from the Riverfront area. LaFHAC continues to fight for fair housing through multiple fronts. Just last year, LaFHAC fought back against NIMBY-ism the gentrified Bywater neighborhood. The outcome was the City Council’s approving construction of a mixed-income development with 82 units being dedicated to affordable housing.
Despite the fake news and false narratives that President Trump spreads, the AFFH principle has created access to equity where these kinds of opportunities were previously non-existent. With the Trump Administration’s reversal of the rule, we will lose out on a mechanism that has been granting Black families, as well as other minorities, a chance to benefit from the American Dream.