Stanley Kurtz: Obama-era ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule’ an attack on suburbs

Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, spoke to Mark Levin about the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule” (AFFH) added by former President Barack Obama to the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which the conservative scholar said has aimed to expand federal influence over suburbia.

Kurtz said in an interview airing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on “Life, Liberty & Levin” that Obama and his wing of the Democratic Party viewed suburbs as “fundamentally unjust” communities that prevent taxation from flowing into the urban cities they surround.

On Thursday, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson announced that he is stripping Obama’s AFFH Rule from the Fair Housing Act, saying the rule “was an overreach of unelected Washington bureaucrats into local communities” — a point echoed by Kurtz.

Carson called the rule a “ruse for social engineering under the guise of desegregation — essentially turning HUD into a national zoning board.”

Kurtz, in his interview with Levin, said Obama “represents an increasingly influential segment of the Democratic Party that really doesn’t think well of the suburbs.”

“Of course, as [Levin] mentioned, [Democrats] want suburban votes. What they’re a little less eager to have understood is they consider suburbs themselves in some ways fundamentally unjust.”

Kurtz said Obama Democrats oppose the structure of the nation’s suburbs because, much of the time, the people that move out of liberal cities and settle in the suburbs often do so to escape high taxation and regulation in urban areas.

“That is viewed by Obama and many other Democrats as a way of selfishly keeping your money from less well-off people in the cities,” he said. “So the Obama administration, riding on some language in the original Fair Housing Act that did not have all the meanings he gave to it, created a really massive rule called [AFFH].”

Kurtz said that, like he did when crafting ObamaCare, Obama created a new “transformative rule” for the government.

“Obama took that brief mention and created out of it a transformative role, a little bit like Obamacare, and that it’s a massive rule that does a great many things… The bottom line is that AFFH would radically undercut the political and economic independence of America’s suburbs,” he said.

“It would allow bureaucrats in Washington, in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to control zoning laws, to control the placement of transportation and business districts, even to some degree the drawing of school districts — In other words, almost every important local governmental responsibility could, under AFFH, fall into the de facto control of the feds.”

Kurtz pointed to southeastern Pennsylvania, where urban Philadelphia serves as the anchor city of what is called the suburban “Main Line” of Montgomery and Chester counties — an economically important area of traditionally wealthier communities straddling what was once the “Main Line” of the Pennsylvania Railroad, now Amtrak’s “Keystone” line toward Lancaster.

Throughout the 20th century, many Philadelphians moved to Montgomery County from the city proper for a number of reasons, creating a commuter corridor that exists to the present day.


“[The AFFH] will try to create a layer of government in between the federal government and local government — a layer of government that corresponds to your greater metropolitan area,” Kurtz explained.

“So if you are in Montgomery County, it will try to remove your governing responsibilities and hand them over to the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area,” he said. “[That] will probably end up taking a chunk of your tax money: So there is a lot in AFFH.”

Carson said the AFFH rule added by Obama will be replaced by a new rule that reduces the burden of local jurisdictions to prove they are actively taking steps to address historical patterns of racial segregation in order to qualify for HUD financing.

“Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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