‘Fixer Upper’ Is Back As Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Lifestyle Empire Expands


TOPLINE

Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of the wildly popular home improvement TV show Fixer Upper, announced a new season of the Waco, Texas-set program would kick off in 2021—on their own broadcast network—as their lifestyle empire, which comprises of book deals, restaurants, retail shops and a Target home goods line, shows no signs of slowing down.

KEY FACTS

In a blog post, Chip Gaines wrote, “It wasn’t more than a few weeks ago that we first talked about returning to the show. I mentioned it to Jo, fully expecting her to tell me I was crazy. But instead, in a real sincere way, she told me she’d been missing it too.”

The newest season will appear on the Magnolia Network, a joint venture between the couple and Discovery (which also owns HGTV, Fixer Upper’s original home).

The Gaineses stopped filming Fixer Upper in 2017, but in April 2019, Discovery announced its DIY network would be rebranded for a media company launched by the couple.

The return of Fixer Upper came two weeks after a six-store expansion of their Waco-based Magnolia lifestyle brand was announced, which also contains two restaurants, a coffee shop and two retail stores.

The Magnolia business empire also includes a real estate company and three Waco vacation rentals, along with several New York Times-bestselling books and home goods collaborations with Target and Anthropologie, though the pandemic has led to furloughs of an undisclosed number of their 500 employees, according to the New York Times.

The Gaineses are credited with revitalizing and giving a new identity to Waco, which was most well-known nationally as the site of the deadly 1993 standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidian religious community that left 80 dead.

Crucial quote

“I think we all have a calling for our lives. Jo and I feel called to be bridge builders, meaning we want to help initiate conversations between people that think differently from one another,” Chip Gaines told Forbes in 2017. “In no way does that mean we all have to agree, but there’s a distinct difference between disagreement and hate.”

Big number

1.7 million. That’s how many tourists flocked to Waco in the first half of 2018, according to the New York Times

Key background

The Gaineses teamed up to revamp Waco homes around 2003, the same year they opened their first Waco store. Their business grew from there and continued expanding with the 2013 premiere of Fixer Upper. The success of Magnolia and Fixer Upper hasn’t been all smiles, shiplap (the wooden planking made eponymous by Joanna) and industrial boho chic, however. In 2016, Buzzfeed published a story on Antioch Community Church, where the Gaineses were congregants. Pastor Jimmy Siebert has told congregants that he believes “homosexuality is a sin,” and that business owners should be willing to reject deals or lose their companies in their rejection of LGBTQ people. HGTV released a statement after saying they didn’t discriminate against LGBTQ people in their programming (although Fixer Upper has never featured a gay couple). Several months later Chip Gaines responded with a blog post: “We care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith,” he wrote. Some legal troubles have also befallen the Gaineses. In 2017, the couple paid $40,000 in fines to the Environmental Protection Agency to settle lead paint violations. Most recently, in February, a Waco judge threw out a lawsuit against Chip Gaines from his former real estate partners that alleged Chip bought them out of the business right before Fixer Upper premiered on HGTV because he knew it would be a success, and therefore cut them off from the profits. A lawyer representing Gaines maintained no wrongdoing on his part.

Further reading

For Joanna Gaines, Home Is the Heart of a Food and Design Empire (New York Times)

Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage (Buzzfeed News)

“What’s Ahead” Podcast with Steve Forbes: Chip and Joanna Gaines (Forbes)

Chip Gaines on His New Book, Odd Motto, and The Most Important Lesson He’s Ever Learned (Forbes)



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Trump Touts ‘Suburban Lifestyle Dream’ After Rescinding Obama-Era Rule Preventing Housing Discrimination


TOPLINE

President Trump on Wednesday promised U.S. suburban residents that the value of their homes would not be impacted by crime or the construction of low-income housing after an Obama-era rule designed to limit housing segregation was ended last week, the culmination of years of deregulation effort by Trump and a reported appeal to suburban voters.  

KEY FACTS

Trump tweeted early Wednesday afternoon:

“Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!” Trump added.

Trump is referencing the 2015 Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule, which President Obama implemented to fight housing discrimination.

The rule required local governments receiving federal housing funds to create plans that would combat housing discrimination, which advocates said helped strengthen the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

Housing Secretary Ben Carson appears to have begun revoking the AFFH rule as of July 23, according to a press release, which means Trump’s tweets came six days after the fact.

Carson called the AFFH rule “complicated, costly and ineffective,” and touted the Trump Administration’s “opportunity zone” initiative, which provides discounts on capital gains taxes for investors sending money into one of over 8,000 designated areas.

Opportunity zones have been criticized by Congress as a means of profit for wealthy real estate developers—including some tied to the current administration.

Chief critics

Social media outcry over Trump’s tweets began almost immediately, which users described as anti-BIPOC. “Trump is a racist idiot,” tweeted Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. Leah Greenberg, executive director of congressional activist group Indivisible Team, called Trump’s tweets “an active campaign for housing segregation.”

Key background

Trump’s tweets come amid decreased suburban support for his November reelection campaign, CNBC reported. The AFFH rule would effectively encourage communities to build more apartments, NPR reported, which would in turn encourage smaller wage earners to move to those areas. The rule did not, however, specifically target suburbs. The Trump administration gutted AFFH in 2018, and Carson had previously criticized the rule during a 2017 hearing. According to the New York Times, Trump‘s opportunity zones were enacted as part of his signature tax cuts in 2017. The Times reported in November 2019 that while some money went to more depressed areas in Pennsylvania and Alabama, the lion’s share has appeared in rapidly gentrifying cities like Atlanta, Houston and Miami. 

Tangent

In 1973, the Justice Department filed a civil rights case against Trump’s company, accusing him of violating the Fair Housing Act by not renting to Black tenants. The case was settled in 1975, with Trump signing an agreement that his company would not discriminate against future tenants or home buyers, as well as place ads informing minorities of their rights to obtain housing at his properties. At the time, Trump said the settlement did not mean he admitted to any wrongdoing, while the DOJ celebrated it as “one of the most far-reaching” agreements it had negotiated.

Further reading

Trump tells suburban voters they will ‘no longer be bothered’ by low-income housing (CNBC)

Seeking Suburban Votes, Trump To Repeal Rule Combating Racial Bias In Housing (NPR)

Lawmakers Increase Criticism of ‘Opportunity Zone’ Tax Break (New York Times)

Inside the government’s racial bias case against Donald Trump’s company, and how he fought it (Washington Post)



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