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Trump administration ends Obama fair housing rule

The Trump administration on Thursday repealed an Obama administration rule meant to combat housing discrimination that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE has cited as he portrays presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenLawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list GOP lawmaker blasts incoming freshman over allegations of presidential voter fraud Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  MORE as a threat to suburban voters.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it was replacing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule implemented in 2015 with its own policy, dubbed Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.

“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonEPA chief quarantining after exposure to someone who later tested positive for COVID-19 Voters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Ben Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after being 'extremely sick' with COVID-19 MORE said in a statement.

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Under the new rule, local officials have significantly more jurisdiction in determining what qualifies as fair housing and how to promote its accessibility. 

To qualify as fair housing under the new rule, a development must be "affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws," according to HUD. Efforts to further fair housing are redefined under the rule to include "any action rationally related to promoting any of the above attributes of fair housing."

The Obama rule previously required localities to draw up plans to address housing discrimination in order to receive certain federal funding. The Trump administration gutted it more than two years ago, making it largely toothless.

"It’s a dark day for the country when the President boasts about maintaining housing segregation, and the agency charged with carrying out the Fair Housing Act becomes a tool to help him do it," Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownACLU sues DHS for records on purchased cell phone data to track immigrants DHS watchdog to probe agency's tracking of Americans' phone data without a warrant Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing MORE (D-Ohio) , the ranking member of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, said in a statement.

The action follows weeks of rhetoric from Trump warning about threats to the suburbs as he courts those voters ahead of November's election. He specifically cited the Obama-era housing rule, arguing that it took zoning decisions out of the hands of local officials.

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Trump on Thursday tweeted a New York Post column criticizing Biden's housing platform.

"The Suburban Housewives of America must read this article," Trump tweeted. "Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream. I will preserve it, and make it even better!"

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At a White House event earlier this month, Trump claimed a Biden presidency would "totally destroy the beautiful suburbs. Suburbia will be no longer as we know it. So they wanted to defund and abolish your police and law enforcement while at the same time destroying our great suburbs."

Critics have condemned Trump's rhetoric as stoking racial animus by suggesting the implementation of fair housing standards that largely benefit minorities would lead to the destruction of the suburbs.

Biden has vowed in his campaign's housing plan to reinstate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule and provide tax incentives to build more affordable housing in suburban, urban and rural areas.

Suburban voters, and suburban women in particular, will be a critical voting bloc for Trump if he hopes to win reelection in November.

A CNN exit poll found that 49 percent of suburban voters backed Trump in the 2016 election, compared to 45 percent who supported Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton offers congratulations over Elliot Page announcement Biden brushes off criticism of budget nominee Mellman: Mired in Partisanship MORE. But many of those same voters backed Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms, helping the party take control of the House.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll released last week found Biden leading Trump among suburban registered voters, 52 percent-43 percent.