Trump turns panic peddler to nervous NIMBY suburbs
Having made his name in real estate, it is oddly appropriate that President Donald Trump’s reelection efforts have steered him into a new version of panic peddling.
“Panic peddling” or “blockbusting” describes the now-illegal practice of persuading property owners to sell cheaply out of fear that people of another race, ethnicity or income group are going to move in and bring down property values. Then the unscrupulous peddler sells the same property for a higher price, most likely to a member of the feared minority group, and reaps the profits.
Trump isn’t selling property this time. He’s selling himself.
“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…” he boasted in a tweet Wednesday during a visit to West Texas.
“Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!”
Right. Have a ball. He was referring to his scrapping of a government program ― Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing ― initiated by his old foe President Barack Obama that tries to reduce racial and economic segregation in suburban areas. In other tweets, Trump has warned that his likely Democratic opponent Joe Biden “will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream.”
Well, as some folks used to say, “There goes the neighborhood.”
I was covering issues of housing discrimination and unscrupulous real estate agents back in the early 1970s when young Donald Trump, his father, Fred, and their Trump Management company were being sued by the Justice Department for discriminating against Black applicants for their apartments. The Trumps settled the case two years later after trying unsuccessfully to countersue the Justice Department.
Perhaps a sense of payback helped move Donald Trump to dump the AFFH rule that Obama put in place. The rule requires housing agencies and communities that receive federal housing and development funds to report steps they are taking to promote residential desegregation under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, a cause for which Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Chicago.
Will Trump’s new panic pitch work? Curiosity drove me to call Alexander Polikoff, lead counsel since the late 1960s on the landmark Gautreaux public housing case. That long-running case led to the first “Section 8” federal housing vouchers that help low-income, elderly and the disabled afford decent housing in the private market.