Former HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan Defends Obama Housing Rules to Diversify Suburbs

row of small American clapboard houses with gables
Getty Images

Obama’s former HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, defended Barack Obama’s housing rules requiring low-income housing in every community development and tore into President Donald Trump’s attempt to remove them.

Trump said on Thursday that his administration would scrap Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rules that would require all communities everywhere in the country to submit building plans to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to gain access to federal funding to begin construction. The rules would require every district to include low-income housing.

In essence, the AFFH rules would remove all zoning powers from local communities and put an end to the single-family residence. The rule would force every community to build high-density, low-income housing instead. Local control would end and be replaced by a national scheme for municipal development.

In a statement, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said the AFFH regulations were “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.”

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

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

Trump also slammed the rule saying that Biden would re-instate the rule and “destroy” the suburbs.

But in an article in the Washington Post on Thursday, Shaun Donovan, Obama’s first HUD secretary, defended the AFFH rules saying that they have been a long-time coming and the time is now to implement them.

Donovan insisted that the plan is a much-needed cure for systemic racism in the suburbs.

“The goal wasn’t just racial integration. It wasn’t enough to say we need to create diverse neighborhoods. We needed to create neighborhoods of opportunity — to really focus it for the first time on race and opportunity,” Donovan told the Post. “Part of this is, if you build more affordable housing in good neighborhoods, that means the suburbs have to open up.”

Donovan insisted that opposing the AFFH is “a very racist appeal,” and accused Trump of attempting to pit whites against blacks over the rule.

“Like so many things with Trump, he really is bringing racism to the surface in a way that nobody would,” Donovan exclaimed.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.