BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s administration again on Tuesday, taking aim at what he called a “cruel and backwards decision” on housing policy. The Trump administration said last week that it is revoking an Obama-era housing regulation designed to eliminate racial disparities in the suburbs.

“They are clearly grandstanding in an election year,” Walsh said at a news conference. “Housing is a human right. It’s the only way to battle decades of racist housing policies.”

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In a tweet addressed to “The Suburban Housewives of America,” Trump made his intended audience clear. “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” he said. “I will preserve it, and make it even better!”

Fair housing advocates called the move a stunt designed to manipulate the fears of white voters.

“While we’re trying to have a conversation about economic justice, Washington is using dog whistle politics,” Walsh said. “In Boston we will not waver on our commitment to fair housing.”

Trump has repeatedly characterized the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation as an existential threat to the suburban way of life that will bring about more crime and lower home prices.

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In a statement, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said the regulation known as AFFH, was “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.”

The 2015 rule established a 92-question survey and grading tool requiring local jurisdictions to assess their own racial and economic disparities and present detailed plans on how to address them. Carson said the jurisdictions were “forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting.”

It will be replaced by a new rule that reduces the burden on local jurisdictions to prove that they are actively taking steps to address historical patterns of racial segregation in order to qualify for HUD financing.

“Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs,” Carson said.

But fair housing advocates said the new regulations water down the previous requirements to the point of meaninglessness.

“We’re dedicated to helping residents access housing, and have a fair shot at owning their own home,” Walsh said. “Our work is to keep families in their homes, and it’s become even more critical during COVID-19. We’re working to strengthen the protections for renters and homeowners and anyone and everyone who calls Boston their home.”

Walsh said he’ll be filing a zoning amendment with the city council that aims to make Boston “the first American city with fair housing requirements written into our zoning code.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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