A year after beginning his position of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, Ben Carson has decided that it's time to update the agency's mission statement and remove words and phrases like "inclusion" and "free from discrimination."
The agency confirmed on Wednesday that a leaked draft of the new mission statement reads:
"HUD's mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation."
The current mission statement reads:
"HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business."
In a March 5 memo to employees, Amy Thompson, the department's assistant secretary for public affairs, commented the change was "an effort to align HUD's mission with the secretary's priorities and that of the administration," according to The Huffington Post.
"It's not clear whether the new language is final," HuffPost reports. "Thompson asked the political staff to send along any 'comments or suggestions.'"
In a tweet posted on Wednesday afternoon, HUD stated that "modest changes" would be made to its mission statement:
Our statement on the changes to HUD's mission. pic.twitter.com/DW0cJjN2qh
— HUDgov (@HUDgov) March 7, 2018
Why is HUD just now considering making changes to its mission statement used by the previous administration? Why didn't Carson make these changes when he became the head of HUD in 2017?
The Trump administration has a track record of quickly deleting any language that doesn't fit its agenda.
In January 2017, after President Trump was sworn into office, his administration deleted the civil rights page from the White House website, along with scrubbing all references to LGBT rights and any mention of climate change. A report called "Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights" also disappeared from the Department of Labor website.
Perhaps HUD changing its mission statement is related to the Trump administration suggesting an $8.8 billion cut to the agency, noted in the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget proposal released last month.
Carson tweeted on Feb. 12 that the proposal promotes "self-sufficiency":
The proposed budget is focused on moving more people toward self-sufficiency through reforming rental assistance programs and moving aging public housing to more sustainable platforms.
— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) February 12, 2018
Meanwhile, according to a report from The Guardian published Feb. 27, Helen Foster, a senior career official in HUD, has alleged that she was demoted and replaced with a Trump appointee after refusing to break the law by funding expensive furniture for Carson's office. The official limit is $5,000.
Acting secretary Craig Clemmensen told Foster that Carson's wife, Candy, wanted her husband's office upgraded, and allegedly instructed her to "find money" beyond the $5,000.
HUD had spent $31,561 on a "custom hardwood table, chairs and hutch" inside Carson's office, according to The New York Times.
Carson claimed he had no knowledge the desk was being ordered. In a Facebook post on Feb. 28, he said, "Rest assured that there has been no dishonesty or wrongdoing by us.
"All the numbers and evidence are being gathered and a full disclosure is forthcoming. We suspect, based on past attempts, that they will continue to probe and make further accusations even without evidence or substantiation. We will continue to ask for God's guidance to do what is right."
Carson said in a statement March 1 that he now wants to cancel the order.
Carson, president-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead housing and urban development in the U.S., recently called fair housing "communist."
In November 2016, when Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has no prior housing experience, was asked in an interview what he knows about housing and urban development, he 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."