Project HomeBy Susie Steimle

SAN MATEO (KPIX 5) –The suburbs have become a huge point of contention ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

President Donald Trump has said if Joe Biden is elected, residents can say goodbye to the suburbs.

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“The Democrats in DC want to abolish our beautiful and successful suburbs. Suburbia will be no more,” President Trump said in a series of speechestweets and campaign ads this summer.

The president has made it clear he wants suburban voters to feel as though their safety is at stake.

“They want to defund our police and law enforcement while at the same time destroying our great suburbs,” Trump said.

It’s a tone reminiscent of 1968 when riots broke out in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and then-candidate Richard Nixon spoke of the “silent majority.”

“It is the voice of the great majority. The forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators,” Nixon said at his acceptance of the Republican nomination for President back in 1968.

One of Trump’s latest ads shows demonstrations in the streets earlier this year. The advertisement imagines a future police answering machine stating, “You have reached 911. Due to defunding of the police, no one is here to take your call.”

Fifty-two years ago, Nixon ran an ad that showed images of demonstrations and violence in the streets with an ominous soundtrack. It featured a voiceover where Nixon said, “So I pledge to you, we shall have order in the United States.”

“My feeling is that suburban voters also came here for one thing; and that’s safety and peace and quiet. They will vote for peace and quiet and safety,” Redwood City resident Maria Rutenburg told KPIX.

Rutenburg says Trump’s message is working. She moved to Redwood City to start a family 25 years ago. She doesn’t want to see the suburbs change and plans to vote for Donald Trump in November.

For me, it was important to have my own place with my own yard, with a nice neighbors, safety and nice schools,” Rutenburg said.

Last month Trump tweeted, “The suburban housewife will be voting for me, they want safety and are thrilled I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood.”

The program he’s talking about is AFFH, which stands for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. It’s an Obama-era rule intended to combat systemic racism in housing.

Joe Biden plans to reinstate AFFH, to which the Trump promises, “Your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise.”

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That is something Anna Kramer in Burlingame worries about.

“Affordable housing, it depends on what type of affordable housing. It could bring an element that’s undesirable into your neighborhood,” Kramer said.

A Stanford Business School study looking at the introduction of low income housing in 129 counties found the development of affordable housing actually decreases both violent and property crime in low income areas and does not increase crime in high income areas.

The study also found in low-income neighborhoods home prices rose 6.5 percent after affordable housing was developed, but in high-income areas home prices dropped 2.5 percent.

“We can have the suburbs and have more housing and have great lives for people,” said San Mateo resident Carolina Nugent.

Carolina and her husband Adam Nugent are new parents who just purchased their first family home in San Mateo. They plan to vote for Joe Biden and say they want to see changes to their neighborhood to combat systemic racism.

“It’s not good to have segregated schools, by race or income. We don’t want to live like that. That’s not what we signed up for,” Nugent said.

In fact, she says that’s why they chose to live in San Mateo.

“We lived in Palo Alto. We lived in Mountain View and we talked about having kids and like, ‘Oh, we can’t have a kid here. It’s just such a bubble,'” Nugent said.

John Ebnetter agrees. He lives in a multi-generational home in San Mateo and wants to see more affordable housing built.

“Grocery store workers, teachers, first responders, they cannot afford to live here. We’re losing the ability to function as a city. It’s showing more in the pandemic than it did prior,” explained Ebnetter.

When it comes to building affordable housing in the suburbs, the American Dream is becoming another American divide.

“It’s important that whoever is the president understands that they worked very hard for their houses and they don’t want them to see it go down the value,” Rutenburg said.

While others say the dream isn’t dead, it just needs to look a lot less exclusive.

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“Affordable housing is for teachers or for people who are just living in the community. They’re not for other people that are scary, that doesn’t even make sense. It’s just fear-mongering,” Nugent said.