The former lieutenant governor of New York, Republican Betsy McCaughey has published some excellent articles on various issues voters might want to consider in the upcoming presidential election. No doubt there will be people who will call her position opposing Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which presidential candidate Joe Biden supports, racist. McCaughey, who served under NY Governor George Pataki in the 1990s, has a different view. It is not racist to oppose federal overriding of suburban zoning ordinances. She argues that this is an overreach and if implemented can irrevocably destroy the lower density character of many suburbs – which is why people, regardless of race, pay money to live there.
By Betsy McCaughey
Former Lieutenant Governor of New York State
If you live in the suburbs, or you’re a city-dweller eyeing a move to a quiet cul-de-sac where your kids can play, you need to know about Joe Biden’s plan for a federal takeover of local zoning laws.
Biden wants to ramp up an Obama-era social engineering scheme called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which barely got started before Donald Trump took office, vowing to stop it.
Biden’s plan is to force suburban towns with single-family homes and minimum lot sizes to build high-density affordable housing smack in the middle of their leafy neighborhoods.
Starting in 2015, Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development bureaucrats imposed a cookie-cutter requirement “balanced housing” in every suburb. “Balanced” meant affordable even for people who need federal vouchers. Towns were obligated to “do more than simply not discriminate.” As HUD’s 2013 proposal explained, towns had to make it possible for low-income minorities to choose suburban living and provide “adequate support to make their choices possible.”
Towns had to scrap zoning, build bigger water and sewer lines to support high-density living, expand schools and social services and add mass transit. All pushing up local taxes. Towns that refused would lose their federal aid.
The rule was one of the worst abuses of the Obama-Biden administration — a power grab masquerading as racial justice.
In Westchester, New York, County Executive Rob Astorino battled the Obama-Biden administration for years, successfully disputing the charge of racism. Zoning laws limit what can be built in a neighborhood, Astorino explained, not who can live there.
Let’s be clear. Denying anyone the chance to rent or buy a home because of their race is abhorrent and illegal. It should be prosecuted whenever it happens.
Truth is, Black Americans have been steadily leaving inner cities and choosing suburban lifestyles, according to Brookings Institution data.
Families of every race want peace of mind letting their kids ride bikes around quiet neighborhood streets. That’s what zoning laws provide.
The real barrier to suburban living is money. Living in the burbs is not cheap. HUD Secretary Ben Carson told a House Committee last May that “people can only afford to live in certain places.” It’s “not because George Wallace is blocking the door.”
Biden and the equality warriors are using accusations of racism to accomplish something different: Marxist economic integration. Their message is: You worked and saved to move to the suburbs, but you can’t have that way of life unless everyone else can, too.
Count on Trump to make Biden’s war on the suburbs a key issue in the election. In his Rose Garden press conference last week, the president came out swinging, warning that Biden would “totally destroy the beautiful suburbs” by “placing far-left Washington bureaucrats in charge of local zoning.”
In response, the left and their media allies played the race card — as usual. “I hear the words of a racist,” said Princeton University Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. on MSNBC. CNN accused Trump of fear-mongering “white suburban voters.”
Don’t buy it. What’s racist is assuming that only whites own homes in the suburbs.
Trump is talking to suburban homeowners of all ethnicities. If you buy a house in a neighborhood with quarter-acre zoning, you don’t want a high-density housing complex built at the end of the street.
Trump won the suburbs in 2016, but polls show Trump trailing in the suburbs largely because of opposition from women. They need to focus on what’s at stake for their families.
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have fled the city in the last four months, many of them spending their savings and taking out a mortgage to buy a home in the suburbs. The same thing is true across the nation. For these transplants, the stakes are high. The outcome of the next election will determine the value of their new house, the size of their property tax bill and the character of the town they now call home.