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President Trump's change to federal fair housing rules unlikely to affect San Diego

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 20:43:10-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- President Donald Trump announced in a tweet that he is rolling back on federal fair housing requirements, saying suburbanites will no longer be "bothered" by low-income housing. But some experts say this may not have a significant effect in San Diego County.

It all began with the 1968 Fair Housing Act (FHA), a law that came out of the Civil Rights Era, abolishing lending discrimination and redlining neighborhoods according to race and other factors.

"A lot of communities here in San Diego, you can look at your deeds, and if you look in a pre-war neighborhood here, you are very likely to see that in the past, there was covenant against selling to a person of color," Stephen Russell, Executive Director of the San Diego Housing Federation, said. "That history is not that old."

Then came the Obama-Era Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH Rule). This was a supplement to the FHA that required local governments receiving federal funds to create plans to fight continued housing discrimination.

But on Wednesday, President Trump tweeted:

"I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood ... Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!"

While this may seem like a blow to local affordable housing advocates, Russell believes this tweet is more of a political stunt to appeal to Suburbanites outside of California.

"Housing policies are largely enacted at the local level. At the state and local level," Russell said. "The state has reaffirmed its commitment to fair housing time and again."

Encinitas has been a local municipality with a history of resisting affordable housing. But in the last few years, Russell says it has started to turn the corner.

With or without this change in the federal mandate, he says municipalities here, still must continue to follow local rules.

"Regardless of what the man tweets, it's not going to change the way the State of California does business," says Russell.