Are Trump And Biden Fighting About Abolishing The Suburbs, Or Desegregating Them?Breaking News
tags: segregation, housing, urban history, Fair Housing Act, suburban history, Westchester County
This summer, President Donald Trump began issuing a warning to voters: he was the only thing standing in the way of Democratic efforts to desegregate, or, in his word, “abolish” the suburbs.
“They want low-income housing,” he told Laura Ingraham on Fox News. “And with that comes a lot of other problems, including crime. May not be nice to say it, but I'll say it.”
Critics jumped on the remarks, arguing that they were clearly racist and designed to alarm white suburbanites, particularly women, many of whom appear to be abandoning Trump.
But beneath the rhetoric rests a genuine policy debate over the extent to which the federal government needs to push municipalities to undo segregation. This debate has been going on since 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act, and was reignited in 2015 when the Obama administration implemented the AFFH, or Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which required municipalities receiving federal funds to put forth detailed plans to reduce segregation.
Much of this debate has played out in New York City’s suburbs.
Attorney Craig Gurian has been at the forefront of desegregation efforts. In 2006, he filed a lawsuit against Westchester County on behalf of his organization, the Manhattan-based Anti-Discrimination Center.
“For years, Westchester, like other jurisdictions that get federal housing funding, was claiming that it was affirmatively furthering fair housing, which means that it was saying that it was taking down barriers to fair housing choice,” Gurian told Gothamist. “And that was a lie. They were doing nothing of the sort. They were taking a hands-off attitude towards their towns and villages that had exclusionary zoning.”
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