As former President Donald Trump repeatedly warned would happen if the Democrats took control of the White House, President Biden has now rolled out a radical plan that will wreck American suburban life with the heavy boot of federal government fanatics who want to destroy the singly family zoning. Hidden inside a massive infrastructure bill announced at the end of March, President Biden is asking Congress for $213 billion in federal housing funding, billions of dollars of which will be used to bribe local authorities into abolishing the suburbs. If enacted, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will become one of the most powerful agencies in the world and soon usher in the destruction of suburban America as we know it.
In August 2020, President Trump and then Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson warned in the Wall Street Journal that “a relentless push for more high-density housing in single-family residential neighborhoods has become the mainstream goal of the left” noting that the “Biden-Sanders unity platform calls for reimposing the Obama-Biden dystopian vision of building low-income housing units next to your suburban house.” Trump and Carson argued against these reckless densification efforts saying:
“America was founded on liberty and independence, not government coercion, domination, and control. It would be a terrible mistake to put the federal government in charge of local decisions—from zoning and planning to schools. Our Founders understood this was the path to tyranny.”
Leftist corporate media organizations balked at statements like this at the time with the Associated Press claiming: “That’s a false account of what Biden supports.” Another CNN “fact-check” called Trump’s claims “racially coded nonsense.” But all the media had to do was scroll through the Biden campaign website and Biden-Sanders “unity” platform to see that President Trump was right. The socialist “unity” platform explicitly demands the restoration of the Obama-Biden Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, a 377-page behemoth that turned the Department of Housing and Urban Development into a national zoning agency allowing central planners in D.C. to determine the density and makeup of local neighborhoods across the country by conditioning federal funding to build new playgrounds, construct homeless shelters, and set up affordable housing units on localities complete submission to the whims of Washington bureaucrats.
The Biden campaign website also called single-family zoning “exclusionary” and discussed the “need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl.” The campaign website vowed that “[a]s President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning[.]” A study by the Opportunity Solutions Project found that this plan was essentially an extortion strategy that presented local communities with an impossible choice: tear your suburbs apart or say goodbye to $12 billion in federal infrastructure funds for roads, bridges, and highways. Under Biden’s campaign proposal, Michigan suburbs would lose $1.2 billion, Ohio suburbs would lose $1.5 billion, Pennsylvania suburbs would lose $1.9 billion, and Florida suburbs would lose $2.1 billion if they did not surrender to the federal government’s zoning edicts.
At numerous rallies throughout the 2020 election season, President Trump issued a clarion call to defend against radical Democrat rezoning attempts that would ruin what 8 out of 10 Americans claim is the cornerstone of their American Dream: ownership of a single-family home.
Now, less than three months into the new Democrat administration, the Biden White House has issued an all-out declaration of war against the basic building block of the suburbs: single family zoning.
First, the Biden administration has moved to review President Trump’s “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice” rule taking the first step toward reinstating the oppressive Obama era AFFH regulation, thereby allowing the federal government to control local zoning regulations and force neighborhoods to build thousands of high-density apartments in suburban backyards.
Second, as a key element of the Democrats’ infrastructure plan, Biden officials are proposing a $213 billion housing boondoggle, conditioning billions of dollars in federal funding on eliminating what they call “exclusionary” zoning, a derogatory synonym for single-family zoning. The infrastructure fact sheet released by the White House literally pressures Congress to “eliminate exclusionary zoning” including “prohibitions on multifamily housing.” If Biden, the Democrats, and their developer allies get their way, there will be nothing stopping single family suburban neighborhoods from being bulldozed to make way for high-density apartment buildings and low-income housing units. The ultimate result will be the Manhattanizing of the suburbs and an end to local control over neighborhoods.
As President Trump and Secretary Carson noted in their op-ed last year, one need only look to Hillary Clinton’s backyard in Westchester County, New York to witness the kind of suburb destruction that the Biden administration is planning. There, according to Trump and Carson, “[f]or eight years under Obama-Biden, HUD pressured Westchester County, N.Y., to change its zoning rules… HUD used the threat of withholding federal money to pressure it to raise property taxes and build nearly 11,000 low-income, high-density apartments.”
To justify its reckless actions, the Obama-Biden administration declared that Hillary Clinton’s neighborhood was racist and discriminatory because it was zoned for single family homes. Today, the Biden administration is using the same excuse in an attempt to consolidate federal control over all of the nation’s suburbs.
But it is the Biden administration’s views concerning the racial composition of the suburbs that are stuck in the Jim Crow era. Since 2010, America’s suburbs have been home to majorities of Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans as well as immigrants. Even the Democrat think tank, the Brookings Institution, has noted that “[m]inorities represent 35 percent of suburban residents, similar to their share of overall U.S. population.” Renowned demographer Joel Kotkin affirmed this point noting that: “If single-family homes are inherently racist, then so are many minorities. Since 2000, the vast majority of African-American, Latino and Asian growth has been in suburban and exurban areas, while core cities, like Chicago, have seen a significant black flight to the suburbs.”
Further, the suburbs did not become America’s melting pot due to top down one size fits all Washington style bureaucratic mandates. Economic freedom and opportunity in addition to hard work and increased middle-class prosperity have caused Americans of all races to be able to move into the suburbs organically. Fundamentally, the suburbs are diverse because people of every race, color, and creed share the universal aspiration of owning a single-family home. It is an essential element of nearly everyone’s American Dream.
Americans move to the suburbs and choose to own single-family homes because that setting provides a great place to form families and raise children, to get access to high quality schools, to get away from the congestion and crime of dense urban cores, to have room to throw the football and play with a dog in the backyard, to actually be able to drive a car rather than be forced to take public transportation and to store up wealth in home equity that can be passed on to the next generation. That is why the suburbs and exurbs are home to nearly 90% of seniors and home equity accounts for up to nearly half of the median retiree’s net worth.
All of these aspects of the suburban way of life – cars, kids, single family houses, and middle-class wealth – terrify Democrats who have fast become the party of climate extremism, big developer interests, socialists, and woke critical race theorists. As the radical social reengineering plan that the Biden White House is trying to sell as an “infrastructure bill” demonstrates, Democrats dream of densely populated cities and suburbs with stack and pack apartments and detest sprawling neighborhoods with single family houses. Democrats oppose homeownership and endorse public housing and rentership. Democrats hope to coerce people out of their cars through mileage taxes to push them onto a high-speed rail. Ultimately, Democrats seek to control where and how Americans live.
President Trump was right when he said that: “America’s suburbs are a shining example of the American Dream, where people can live in their own homes, in safe, pleasant neighborhoods.” He was also right when he said that: “The left wants to take that American dream away from you.”