Fundamentally, AFFH is an attempt to achieve economic integration. Race and ethnicity are being used as proxies for class, since these are the only hooks for social engineering provided by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Like AFFH itself, today’s Washington Post piece blurs the distinction between race and class, conflating the persistence of “concentrated poverty” with housing discrimination by race. Not being able to afford a freestanding house in a bedroom suburb is no proof of racial discrimination. Erstwhile urbanites have been moving to rustic and spacious suburbs since Cicero built his villa outside Rome. Even in a monoracial and mono-ethnic world, suburbanites would zone to set limits on dense development.
Moving poor people next to wealthier ones doesn’t change their behavior.
The plan has three elements: 1) Inhibit suburban growth, and when possible encourage suburban re-migration to cities. This can be achieved, for example, through regional growth boundaries (as in Portland), or by relative neglect of highway-building and repair in favor of public transportation. 2) Force the urban poor into the suburbs through the imposition of low-income housing quotas. 3) Institute “regional tax-base sharing,” where a state forces upper-middle-class suburbs to transfer tax revenue to nearby cities and less-well-off inner-ring suburbs (as in Minneapolis/St. Paul).
There is much that Congress can do, and much that you can do to make sure Congress acts.
First, Congress needs to hold hearings on AFFH. The mainstream press has been straining to avoid AFFH. Let’s see if we can give them a story they’ll find hard to ignore. HUD Secretary Julian Castro needs to be called to answer questions before Congress on AFFH.
Second, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar has introduced a stand-alone bill called the Local Zoning and Property Rights Protection Act of 2015, H.R. 1995. This bill not only cancels AFFH and its intrusive and controlling “Assessment Tool,” it instructs HUD Secretary Castro to consult with local officials across the country on how to further the objective of fair housing, without new regulations.
The House has already passed Rep. Gosar’s amendment to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development Bill defunding AFFH. Yet the fate of the THUD bill remains in doubt. It may be considered by the Senate as separate legislation, or it may ultimately be bundled into another big Omnibus bill.