Has Trump Been Living in the Slums?

According to the EB-5 investor visa program, his homes have been in depressed areas

By David North on April 25, 2023

Most U.S. residents imagine that former President Donald Trump lives in posh neighborhoods; you know, Trump Tower at 775 Fifth Avenue, the White House, and Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.

But the dataset of one immigration-related government program, that of the EB-5 immigrant investor scheme, suggests otherwise; its rules suggest that while Trump’s New York residence is (narrowly) in a more or less prosperous area, his move to the White House led him to (by EB-5 definition) a depressed area, and the subsequent relocation in Florida led him to an even more depressed neighborhood.

EB-5 requires that its investments must be in a census tract, or a set of them, called a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), having a greater amount of unemployment than America as a whole. What happens when you apply this seemingly reasonable standard to Trump’s various residences? The EB-5 industry has produced a dataset that shows, seemingly for every street address in the country, whether or not a given address places it in what would be an eligible TEA in the EB-5 program. That dataset has this to say about the three Trump neighborhoods:

  • 775 Fifth Ave.: “Uncertain! 775 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, USA might not qualify as a TEA when new data is finalized in April 2023."
  • White House: “Success! 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA can currently qualify as a Targeted Employment Area for EB-5 program purposes.”
  • Mar-a-Lago: “Success! MXG6+G89, 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, USA can currently qualify as a Targeted Employment Area for EB-5 program purposes.” (Just what those initials mean is not explained.)

While this dataset is not a government product, it presumably is designed to meet government rules.

We are not suggesting that the former president is a secret slum-dweller; we do note, however, that even with the new EB-5 rules laid down by Congress last year it is possible to place an EB-5 investment in what would seem to be a prosperous urban neighborhood. No need to put those investments in really poor areas, which was the original justification for this part of the investor visa program. (We've written frequently about the gerrymandering of Targeted Employment Areas, including here.)

Readers are encouraged to use the site referenced above to look up their current addresses, and maybe the ones of their childhoods, to see if any of them (or all of them) qualify for EB-5 investments.