The Trump administration last week rescinded a Obama-era rule that asked HUD recipients to measure and consider fixes to racial segregation in their communities.
President Donald Trump then followed up the decision with a tweet that critics say was an explicit appeal to white, suburban voters.
"His tweet was aimed at a strategy of appealing to racial resentment and really people's worst ideas about how our communities should be structured," David Sanchez, director of research and development for the National Community Stabilization Trust, told Cheddar. "Attitudes like that are a big reason why we have such severe segregation by race, class, and opportunity in this country, and unfortunately the president is trying to use those fears to benefit himself politically."
The loss of the rule itself has gotten less attention, in part due to its low profile as more of a regulatory tweak than an aggressive federal policy.
The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule that Trump's HUD eliminated asked municipalities and housing authorities to account for racial bias in their communities by writing a report and issuing recommendations, but it did not force municipalities to address segregation directly.
"It was about gathering data," Sanchez said. "It was about getting people talking about segregation. But it wasn't about forcing communities to do anything."
In the long-term, though, he added that cutting the rule will only contribute to the ongoing economic divide between the suburbs and cities.
"It's going to continue to concentrate economic resources, social privilege in certain people who can afford to live in high-opportunity communities," Sanchez said. "In the same way the COVID crisis has supercharged inequality in this country, this is just another step in that direction."