By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – As we reported last week, it’s been an emerging theme of President Trump’s re-election campaign, that “people on the far left that want to see the suburbs destroyed,” and that an Obama-era rule called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing was the vehicle to do it.

Already-tepid enforcement of the rule was abandoned in 2018. But today, the president took an online victory lap, tweeting: “I am happy to inform all of the people living their suburban lifestyle dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low-income housing built in your neighborhood. Your housing prices will go up based on the market and crime will go down.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who called the rule “the only way to battle decades of racist housing policies,” and other critics may be outraged, but they are surely unsurprised to see Trump reprise a familiar tactic, playing on racial fears and ignorance to persuade suburban residents that integrated, mixed-income housing is a dire threat to their investments and safety.

Studies such as this one on the impact of affordable, mixed-income housing development in the suburbs consistently refute that myth. But with his numbers cratering among suburban voters, Trump is reaching for an old racial dog-whistle, one familiar to Bostonians who recall the blockbusting tactics in the late 1960s that almost overnight turned thriving blue-collar Jewish and Catholic neighborhoods in Dorchester and Mattapan into exclusively black, low-income enclaves.

And now that the rule is officially dead?

“Places receiving federal funding won’t have to show that they’re supporting integration,” said UMass Donahue Institute research analyst Carrie Bernstein.

Since there’s “no longer strong support for siting affordable housing in a more integrated way,” she noted, “things that state and local communities do to help, they will now get less credit at the federal level for doing.”

Housing discrimination has been illegal in our country since 1866, but enforcement has been spotty at best. And the fears Realtors have preyed on in Boston and elsewhere for decades are being transparently recycled by the Trump administration today.

Jon Keller