Trump Attacks a Suburban Housing Program. Critics See a Play for White Votes.

Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an advocacy group based in Washington, questioned the timing of the tweet — especially since Mr. Trump seldom weighs in on such specific policy matters.

“It’s especially abhorrent for the president to threaten further entrenchment of segregated communities now, during a time of reckoning on racial injustices in our country,” Ms. Yentel said. “A direct line connects America’s history of racist housing policies to today’s overpolicing of Black and brown communities.”

It is unclear how the pandemic, economic swoon and local moratoriums on rent payments will affect the proposed rule changes. Even before the current crisis, homelessness rates were on the rise, especially on the West Coast. At the same time, Black homeownership rates have dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s.

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing policy was meant to replace oversight of federal spending on housing that was widely seen as ineffective, especially when it came to discrimination based on race, disability, gender, age and sexual orientation.

The new rules, in theory, created stricter benchmarks for communities receiving federal funding, but compliance proved difficult, and HUD was still working on a tool kit that would have made it easier for localities to file the necessary reports when Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Donovan said.

Opponents, including some local officials, viewed the new system as onerous — and found a receptive audience for their complaints when Ben Carson, a brain surgeon with no housing experience, was confirmed as Mr. Trump’s housing secretary in 2017.

By 2018, Mr. Carson, a free-market conservative and the only Black person in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, delayed enactment of the regulation and signaled his intention to eliminate it altogether, part of a larger strategy of slow-walking fair housing investigations and marginalizing department officials who aggressively pursued cases.

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