Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

The AFFH rule is known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and was enacted by the Obama administration in 2015. It was rescinded in the Trump administration in 2018 but it will be resurrected again under a Biden administration.  It requires municipal jurisdictions that receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to file a report identifying barriers to fair housing and set goals for overcoming them. Failure to file the report, called an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), could result in HUD withholding that jurisdiction’s block-grant money.

It requires every municipality with a population of 50,000 or greater to file such a report if it wants to continue to receive CDBG funding. This federal mandate would include not just Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa but Glendale, Chandler, Tempe and virtually every city in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.

Glendale is a suburban community. Envision that vacant parcel of land in your neighborhood that has been zoned for single family residential homes becoming identified as an Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing site now to be changed not just for multi-family residential apartments but with the stipulation that the majority of the units be devoted to Section 8 housing. This action would destroy the fabric of many neighborhoods.

Lately I have been researching how certain commercial/retail uses situated in low-income areas affect those portions of communities. Here is just some of what I have learned.

Fact: Where there is a density of low income housing there follows a proliferation of pawn shops, loan stores, bars and package liquor stores. One has only to look at the square mile in Glendale whose boundaries are Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road, 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue. It is the densest square mile in terms of population in Glendale. This square mile not only has 1300 single family affordably priced homes but also 10 apartment complexes ringing this square mile. All offer extremely affordable rental units. There are far too many bars, package stores and loan shops in this area.

Fact: Many large urban areas such as Chicago and Baltimore use “restricted zoning.” This means these cities have recognized that where there is a proliferation of the above cited uses, crime and violence increase by 22%. They have proactively placed a variety of restrictions on the number of these kinds of uses that can be placed within certain areas of their communities.

What if Biden wins this November? While the AFFH did not in any way tie CDBG money to the elimination of single-family zoning, a number of Democratic candidates for President proposed to do just that in their housing plans, including Democrat Presidential candidate Biden.

Under the “executive orders” section of the Democratic/Biden platform, Biden would “Implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH) requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have discriminatory protections.” In other words, develop and implement a plan that replaces single family housing with affordable multi-family housing or lose your federal grants.

An enormous amount of federal dollars, namely Community Development Block Grants (CDGB) and Surface Transportation Block Grants (STBG) go into virtually every community in the United States. By holding the possible loss of federal funding over the heads of cities and towns, the Biden administration would seek to change zoning laws throughout the country in order to mandate low income housing be transferred from urban to suburban areas.

In addition, the Biden platform says they will, “expand the number of affordable housing units on the market… We commit to providing Section 8 housing support for every eligible family.”

What does that mean exactly? In a nutshell, it means that the rules would require every single American city or town to add Section 8 also known as “low income housing” in every community. The issuance of vouchers for Section 8 housing would be available to all in the low to moderate income bracket. The expansion of Section 8 vouchers and the mandate to build more low income housing (apartments) for all cities and towns in receipt of federal funding would destroy suburban areas within our communities as we know them.

I have been reading all 80 pages of the Democrat Party platform and there are many elements that are troubling. Over the next month or two I will highlight other platform issues of the party for your consideration.

As a local elected official for many years, I believe this one initiative alone is enough to destroy your neighborhood and mine. I have worked for years to support low income housing in locations within our city that continue to ensure our city’s diversity and vibrancy. This policy is like taking a sledge hammer to pound a thumb tack into a wall. The thumb tack will be successfully in the wall but the wall will most certainly be damaged in the process.

I would suggest that you, the voter, educate yourself on the policies each candidate stands behind. Forget the personalities. Concentrate on what each party wants to do to make you and your family’s life better. If you think this policy will make you and your family’s life better then it becomes a building block in your assessment with regard to your final vote. If it does not, then perhaps you should look at the opposing party’s policies on this issue.

Election season is a clown carnival filled with drama and hyperbole. Local elections are often dirty but don’t hold a candle to national elections. Try to ignore the noise. Take the time to find out where the candidate wants to take our country…and you.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         


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