Ben Carson on Why He’s Qualified to be HUD Secretary: ‘I Grew Up in the Inner City’
President-elect Donald Trump has tapped a retired neurosurgeon to become the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson.
Carson, who dropped out of the 2016 presidential race in March and backed Trump, has yet to publicly issue an acceptance of the position. According to HousingWire, on Monday, sources close to the appointment confirmed that he would accept.
During his presidential campaign Trump equated African Americans with inner cities. In the town hall-style presidential debate in October, a Black audience member asked if the candidates would be a president for all Americans. Trump responded by explaining the plight of people living in “inner cities,” conflating the Black questioner as a representative of the inner city.
“I would be a president for all of the people, African Americans, the inner cities,” he said. “Devastating what’s happening to our inner cities.”
Ironically, Carson believes the fact that he grew up in an inner city, Detroit, Mich., makes him qualified for the HUD appointment.
In an interview with Fox News on November 22, when asked by Neil Cavuto what he knows about housing and urban development, Carson said, “I know I grew up in the inner city, and have spent a lot of time there, have dealt with a lot of patients from there, and recognize that we cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities.”
The progress made on anti-housing discrimination laws during the Obama administration will most likely be hindered. Carson has criticized President Barack Obama’s HUD fair-housing rule, which requires cities to assess how they distribute low-income housing in order to receive federal housing funds.
In July 2015, almost 50 years after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was established, the Obama administration incorporated a new rule, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), aimed at promoting fair housing as the American housing market remains utterly segregated by race.
In a 2015 radio interview in Iowa, Carson referred to a fair housing agreement between HUD and the city of Dubuque as “communist.”
“This is what you see in communist countries where they have so many regulations encircling every aspect of your life that if you don’t agree with them, all they have to do is pull the noose,” he said. “And this is what we’ve got now. Every month, dozens of regulations business, industry, academia, every aspect of our lives so that they can control you.”
Last year, Carson also took to the Washington Times op-ed page to criticize fair housing rules:
“These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse. There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens, but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.”
AFFH aims to provide program participants with clear guidelines and data. HUD will provide open data to grantees and the public on patterns of integration and segregation, racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, disproportionate housing needs and disparities in access to opportunity. The rule enforces accountability mechanisms for housing segregation, restoring strength to HUD’s grant-making power.
When communities apply for HUD grants, they must turn in an Analysis of Impediments (AI) to reflect the current fair housing situation in their city, including any obstacles people of color face and whether or not local officials are combating segregation. The Fair Housing Planning Guide provides information on how to conduct an AI.
The fate of AFFH, or at least aspects of it, will be determined by Trump’s administration and Carson if he accepts the position.
According to The Atlantic’s CityLab, “Aspects of AFFH have yet to be implemented: the Assessment of Fair Housing tool for state governments, for example, will not receive final approval by the Office of Management and Budget before January 20. If AFFH is to succeed, President-elect Trump will have to finish what President Obama started.”
During the presidential campaign, Trump’s bout with fair housing was brought to light. In 1973, the Department of Justice sued Trump; his father, Fred; and Trump Management for alleged racial discrimination at Trump housing developments in New York. The company would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African Americans.
The DOJ pursued a settlement in which Trump and his father would promise not to discriminate. Two years later, the case was settled. Trump tried to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million for making false statements, but the court, according to NPR, dismissed the allegations.
At the presidential debate in September, Trump responded to those allegations:
“Yes, when I was very young, I went into my father’s company had a real estate company in Brooklyn and Queens.And we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country it was a federal lawsuit were sued. We settled the suit with zero, with no admission of guilt.”