HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s God-and-Bootstraps Fails to Hearten Affordable Homes Advocates

HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s Housing Policy Remains a Mystery

On April 23, 2017, Politico reported on the HUD Secretary in an article entitled “Carson’s God-and-bootstraps message fails to hearten housing advocates.”

Lorraine Woellert writes “Less than two months on the job, Carson still holds forth on God and neurosurgery, but his views on housing policy remain largely a mystery.” Dr. Ben Carson is President Trump’s Secretary at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.)

“I was told that as a government leader, I really shouldn’t talk about God. But I have to tell you, it’s part of who I am,” Carson said last month, in one of his first speeches as HUD secretary.

“… Carson still holds forth on God and neurosurgery, but his views on housing policy remain largely a mystery. While he’s making good on a promised listening tour to learn about the $48 billion agency he now leads, he’s done little public speaking about the urgent issue at hand — a lack of affordable housing.”

Housing advocates are frustrated over the fact that no policy jobs at HUD have been filled. And President Trump’s recently released “skinny budget” cut’s HUD funding by 13.2%.

Dr. Carson has mentioned in his remarks to various audiences that housing will be included in the President’s infrastructure package. He has also said “that legislation won’t fill funding gaps at HUD. To meet the president’s spending targets, the agency will find ways to cut waste and be more efficient, he said.”

“Already, some people are being denied housing aid in anticipation of budget cuts. Soon after Trump released his plan, some agencies stopped redistributing rental subsidy vouchers under Section 8, a HUD program with a waiting list of low-income households. Hundreds of thousands of families are on those lists, which have a median wait time of 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.”

As just one example of how Dr. Carson ties both God and his experience as a neurosurgeon into his speeches to housing experts and advocates, “Speaking of God, which I love to do; quite frankly, he’s a great guy,” Carson said on March 28, drawing friendly laughter during a speech to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

“We should be grateful that God gave us variety. But you know what he didn‘t give us variety in? The brain.”

Some advocates working to end poverty in the United States fine his “up-by-the-bootstraps” message unrealistic and not helpful.

“It’s a great story, but it’s a dangerous message because not everybody can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. “Nobody does that, including Secretary Carson. He had a lot of support — his mother, his family, his faith. He had a whole context of support.”

Carson’s God-and-bootstraps message fails to hearten housing advocates

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