Trump’s Housing Policies Are Racist Enough to Make His Father Proud

While it’s true housing discrimination did not originate with Donald Trump, it is true that, as president, the housing policies he has advanced through the office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) headed by Ben Carson are exacerbating decades-old issues.

Recently, the Trump administration announced two rule revisions predicted to worsen housing segregation.

One relieves suburban communities of obligation to revoke policies and practices responsible for creating or continuing segregation.

The other relieves retail banks accepting deposits from low-income neighborhood residents of an obligation to extend mortgages and other credit services.

Discrimination is nothing new to Donald Trump, particularly pertaining to housing.

Trump’s racist record stretches all the way back to the 1970s when the Justice Dept. (DOJ)’s Civil Rights Division filed a lawsuit against Trump Management Company Donald Trump co-operated with his father, Fred Trump, for violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

Around the time Donald Trump was settling into the White House, the FBI released almost 400 pages of records about a four-decade old investigation it conducted into racial discrimination practices the Trumps imposed on apartment rental applicants.

Some records provide accounts of black applicants being turned away while white applicants were not.

A former doorman recalled a supervisor who “told me that if a black person came to 2650 Ocean Parkway and inquired about an apartment for rent, and he, that is [redacted] was not there at the time, that I should tell him that the rent was twice as much as it really was, in order that he could not afford the apartment.”

At the time of the suit, the New York City Human Rights Division dispatched individuals to clandestinely test the complaint’s veracity.

One of those individuals, Sheila Morse, recalled being sent out on an African American man’s claim he was denied consideration for an advertised apartment.

Morse stated:

“He met with the superintendent, and the superintendent said, ‘I’m very sorry, but the apartment is rented— it’s gone.’ So the gentlemen said to him, ‘Well, why is the sign out? I still see a sign that says apartment for rent.’ And the superintendent said, ‘Oh, I guess I forgot to take it down.'”

But when Morse arrived at the same building asking about the same apartment, she received a different response:

 “They greeted me with open arms and showed me every aspect of the apartment.”

After reporting this to the Human Rights Commission, Morse returned to the apartment building and was offered a lease, at which time an African American man previously denied entered the office with a city human rights commissioner.

The building superintendent apparently responded:

 “Well, I’m only doing what my boss told me to do—I am not allowed to rent to black tenants.”

The commissioner’s demand the superintendent take him to the superintendent’s boss led right to Trump Management.

The federal investigation uncovered the coding system Trump employees were required to use, such as “No. 9” or “C” for “colored.”

Former Trump Management staffer Harry Schefflin told government investigators he was ordered to rent only to “Jews and executives,” and discourage African Americans.

Building supervisors were instructed to inflate rental rates for African American applicants and keep “a sham lease and check to be shown to black applicants.”

Washington Post writer Michael Kranish, who co-wrote the book Trump Revealed, stated the DOJ considered the case “one of the most significant race bias cases” at the time, explaining:

“They [Trump Management] signed what was called a consent order. Trump fought the case for two years…He says it was very easy, but actually he fought the case for two years.”

The Trumps accepted the first settlement offer the federal government offered without admitting guilt, Kranish explained:

“[The settlement] required the Trumps to place ads in newspapers saying that they welcomed black applicants. It said that the Trumps would familiarize themselves with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination. So it also specifically said they don’t admit wrongdoing, but they did have to take several measures that the Trumps had fought for two years not to take.”

Although not admitting guilty, Trump Management entered into a consent decree requiring it to implement safeguards to ensure apartments were rented without racial, religious, gender, and nationality prejudice.

Arguing against the charge of discrimination, in his 1987 book The Art of the Deal, Trump claimed:

“What we didn’t do was rent to welfare cases, white or black.” 

As The Daily Beast originally reported in 2015, before Donald was the Republican nominee:

“The ugly details of this early clash with the Department of Justice shed light on alleged systemic discrimination at the heart of the Trump real estate empire. If there is any truth to these allegations, these court documents may provide insight into the early business practices of the candidate who is now committed to blocking all Muslims entry into our nation, and who claims to be “the least racist person on Earth.”

Just remember what folk music icon Woody Guthrie had to say back in the 1950s after living in one of Fred Trump’s Beach Haven, Brooklyn apartments.

In the aptly titled song “Old Man Trump“–a revision of “I Ain’t Got No Home”–Guthrie sings:

 “I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project.

“Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven looks like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.