HUD Appointment of Dr. Ben Carson Could Devastate Fair Housing
On November 28, 2016, HousingWire reported that Dr. Ben Carson will accept the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.) Dr. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon and a former candidate for president.
Carson announced on his Facebook last week that “after serious discussions with the Trump transition team,” he believed he could make a difference. He also stated that an announcement would come soon about his role in “helping to make America great again,” according to an article by Damian Paletta and Nick Timiraos for The Wall Street Journal.
The new HUD secretary also announced his pending decision on Twitter.
An announcement is forthcoming about my role in helping to make America great again. https://t.co/jGRyzFRBAK
— Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) November 23, 2016
Carson did grow up in an inner city. But just two weeks ago Carson withdrew his name as a possibility for a cabinet position saying that he was “unqualified to run a government agency. And the transition team had previously offered other names of qualified candidates with housing backgrounds.
But now Carson’s appointment sends the message that HUD and its critical work of helping and protecting poor renters could be viewed as important by Trump and his advisors. Carson’s views on housing policy are not known.
Carson’s appointment is concerning for affordable housing and fair housing advocates.
In a July 2015 op-ed in The Washington Times, Carson wrote:
“Remember busing, that brilliant social experiment that was to usher in a new era of racial utopia in America? Undaunted by the failed socialist experiments of the 1980s, the Obama administration has recently implemented a new Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule designed to “desegregate” housing by withholding funds from communities that fail to demonstrate their projects “affirmatively further” fair housing.’”
The Obama administration has given HUD an important tool to strengthen the Fair Housing Act.
“Carson has only ever indicated an interest in reversing federal efforts to desegregate. As the director of HUD, Carson might scale back the reach of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. Or he might do nothing. His own admitted lack of preparedness suggests that his undersecretaries will play significant roles. An Assistant Secretary Lazio or Patenaude might be a better indication of the future of HUD than a Secretary Carson on his own.”
Citylab reported that earlier this fall, housing advocates had urged HUD Secretary Julián Castro, to focus on “Permanently affordable housing, shared equity homeownership, and renter asset-building strategies.”
But now advocates will be in a defensive position hoping that affordable housing programs are not “dismantled.”
“The U.S. is in the grip of a staggering affordable-housing crisis, and missteps at HUD could expose thousands of vulnerable families to despair and homelessness.”