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Expert calls rescinding fair housing rule a step in the wrong direction

Residents and experts say diversity in neighborhoods is important.

WASHINGTON — The past few months have forced America to take a closer look at possible unconscious bias from all walks of life. In the wake of all that – the president said he wanted to get rid of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule or AFFH. It was a rule put in place by the Obama-Biden administration to attempt to create more inclusive communities – free of discrimination.

Rufus McKinney moved to Bethesda, Maryland, in the 1960s. He and his family initially rented a house before buying a home. 

“My primary concern in looking for a residence in 1972, was to find a place that had good schools, as they say,” McKinney said.

McKinney is one of the people WUSA9 spoke with to find out why diversity in neighborhoods is so important. Our other sources are Brandon Rule, President of Rule Enterprises, a mixed-use development company specializing in affordable housing. Another source is a 2015 Press Release about the AFFH rule, and President Donald Trump’s tweets.

McKinney and his family purchased the house they still live in today in 1981. It’s in the Kenwood Park neighborhood. 

“It was an open community, although it was created and dominated by a Jewish community,” he said.  

A father of four and grandfather of 10, McKinney reflects on how the place he calls home today isn’t much different than it was years ago.

“If there's an affluent community that has workforce housing in it, it allows for people not to have to travel a tremendous amount of time to get to their jobs,” Brandon Rule said.

As the president of Rule Enterprises, Brandon Rule knows why it’s so important to make sure every community is socioeconomically diverse. 

“When there is inclusion, that sustainability breeds a more collaborative neighborhood than a concentration of poverty in one area,” Rule added.

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 but wasn’t widely enforced.

During the Obama administration in 2015, cities that received federal funds were required to reexamine housing barriers; an act President Donald Trump says he’s rescinded.

Rule said this is a step in the wrong direction. 

“This has the opportunity to go back to doing the very things in which we've done and which we've seen have created inequity, in not only housing but wealth, because that's, frankly, they're pretty tied together in that way. But also, health disparities as well.”

McKinney believes equality has become far too politicized during this presidency. “One of his key objectives appears to be to undo every advance in the area of equal rights,” McKinney said.

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