Red Alert on Federal Housing Interference?

Is the government’s new Federal housing rule going to be used to assault local neighborhoods?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a National Review story that is so filled with doom. It comes to us from Stanley Kurtz: “Massive Government Overreach: Obama’s AFFH Rule Is Out.”

Today, HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced the finalization of the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule. A front-page article preemptively defending the move appears in today’s Washington Post. The final rule is 377 pages, vastly longer than the preliminary version of the rule promulgated in 2013.

AFFH is easily one of President Obama’s most radical initiatives, on a par with Obamacare in its transformative potential. In effect, AFFH gives the federal government a lever to re-engineer nearly every American neighborhood — imposing a preferred racial and ethnic composition, densifying housing, transportation, and business development in suburb and city alike, and weakening or casting aside the authority of local governments over core responsibilities, from zoning to transportation to education. Not only the policy but the political implications are immense — at the presidential, congressional, state, and local levels.

It is a scandal that the mainstream press has largely refused to report on AFFH until the day of its final release. The rule has been out in preliminary form for two years, and well before that the Obama administration’s transformative aims in urban/suburban policy were evident.

According to Kurtz, the rule uses race as an excuse to overthrow suburban local governments and turn them into satellites of major cities. As someone who lives in a suburb of Saint Louis, that sounds very ominous. People in the city have long wished to absorb the rest of the county. It would basically be a bailout of their horrible finances. I have no idea if that sort of thing is included in this idea or if it is something else.

The Washington post article Kurtz references is written by Emily Badger. Badger has been an ardent advocate of the goals of this rule for quite some time. Kurtz wrote about her and others last month:

The June 1, 2015 Brookings event on “Place and Opportunity” was streamed on video by 30 officials at HUD and 9 officials from the Seattle Housing Authority, a national center of regionalist policies. The section of the video of particular interest comes in the form of a comment by event host, Brookings Fellow Richard Reeves, on remarks by panelist Margery Austin Turner. Turner, senior vice president for Program, Planning, and Management at the Urban Institute, is also a former deputy assistant secretary for research at HUD, and so (as Reeves points out) was addressing many of her former HUD colleagues online. What we’re seeing on video, then, is not an isolated opinion, but evidence of the state of mind of the core advocates and officials who shape the Obama administration’s housing policies.

The key exchange comes between 1:21:08 and 1:23:59 on the video. In response to a question from Reeves about what “getting serious” about housing policy would mean, Turner cites AFFH, arguing that the rule could bring “incredibly important” changes to America. Slyly, she acknowledges that AFFH isn’t so much enforcing the original legal obligation to “affirmatively further fair housing,” as it is changing our understanding of what that obligation means. (In other words, AFFH is stretching a directive to prevent discrimination into a mandate for social engineering.) Turner then says that it would take decades for AFFH to fully transform society along the lines she desires. (I’d add that the rule won’t take nearly that long to gut local government in America.)

What’s interesting is that when Turner finishes her discussion of AFFH by saying that the rule “sounds very obscure, but I think it could be hugely important,” Reeves breaks in and says: “Perhaps it’s important to keep [the AFFH rule] sounding obscure in order to get it through.” (In other words, to get the AFFH rule enacted before public opposition and congressional Republicans can block it, we’ve got to keep its existence and importance quiet.) At this point, the audience laughs sympathetically. Then Reeves adds: “Sometimes obscurity is the best political strategy, particularly in this area.”

You don’t often see a direct admission by AFFH advocates that they are trying to fly under the political and media radar, but here it is—and at a Brookings event that Reeves himself emphasizes was being streamed by bureaucrats at HUD. Reeves clearly has no worries that his call for stealth might stir outrage from the 30 Obama administration officials listening in.

Another revealing section of the video comes between 42:30 and 48:24 when we hear from Emily Badger, a staff writer at The Washington Post. Not only is Badger an enthusiastic advocate of precisely the sort of policies represented by AFFH, but she’s clearly aware of how politically awkward the topic is. So why won’t the mainstream press fairly report—or indeed report at all—on the sweeping ambitions of AFFH? If Badger is any indication, the press has refused to do its job because it is thoroughly on the side of AFFH’s advocates, and is complicit in their plans to keep this issue out of the public eye.

Why wasn’t Reeves ashamed to call for keeping AFFH quiet, in front of a reporter for The Washington Post? And why didn’t Badger write a story, say, about the stealthy ways of AFFH supporters? Obviously, it’s because Badger is herself an advocate of AFFH, and holds that interest above her obligations as a reporter.

Basically then, accompanying a rule as revolutionary as Obamacare, we have a team of lying Jonathan Grubers.

So according to Kurtz, we have here full-fledged social engineering and economic “integration” that will eviscerate local control and force new zoning rules on the suburbs. All of this is so radical that it would, if realized, guarantee the loss of the Democrat nominee. The media knows this and is in full hush mode about the full implications.

All of this is so new to me I’m not sure what to think. But I believe we all need to follow Kurtz’s links and explanations, find out what is going on, and start screaming from the housetops.