Trump Officially Taps Carson as HUD Head
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Trump Officially Taps Carson as HUD Head

December 5, 2016
Dr. Ben Carson, the new Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the sole African-American in President Trump’s cabinet

After weeks of speculation, President-Elect Donald Trump has chosen retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson to take over as head of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).

Dr. Carson, an early campaign rival of Trump, initially stated he was not certain he would fit into a Cabinet position in the Trump Administration and delayed making an official commitment after the president-elect sent out a message via Twitter on November 22 that he wanted Dr. Carson to run HUD. But Dr. Carson was swayed by the President-Elect after a series of interviews as Trump’s Administration begins to take shape.

“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Trump said in a statement. “We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”

Dr. Carson issued a statement that said, “I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”

Fred Kreger, CMC, president of NAMB-The Association of Mortgage Professionals, said, "We look forward to watching Dr. Carson operate at HUD and look forward to working with him."

During the Republican primaries, Dr. Carson touched upon housing-related matters by calling for the privatization of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and the elimination of the home mortgage interest deduction. One of the bullet points of Carson's plan stated: "Eliminate deductions for home mortgage interest, charitable giving and state and local taxes. The overwhelming majority of Americans do not benefit from these itemized deductions." He also criticized the Obama Administration’s approach to running HUD as an exercise in “social engineering.”

David H. Stevens, CMB, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), greeted the nomination. “On behalf of the MBA, I want to congratulate Dr. Ben Carson on being chosen to be nominated as the Secretary of HUD,” said Stevens in a statement. “Housing is one of the largest contributors to the health and success of the overall economy, and as such we must continue to recognize its significance. MBA looks forward to working with Dr. Carson in helping to build out a well-rounded team of housing experts, with a deep technical understanding of the issues, at HUD, FHA and Ginnie Mae. MBA wishes Dr. Carson and the rest of the administration success as they get ready to embark upon these next four years.”

Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), also welcomed the nomination. "NAHB congratulates Dr. Carson on his nomination as HUD secretary. He is a thoughtful leader who is sure to assemble a professional team of policy experts and be a great spokesperson for housing," he said in a statement. “Upon his confirmation to the Cabinet post, NAHB looks forward to working with Dr. Carson to promote pro-housing policies that support homeownership, provide rental housing opportunities for low- and middle-income households, and remove regulatory barriers that are needlessly raising housing costs for hard-working American families.”

Richard Jennison, president and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Institute, stated that his organization "appreciates President-Elect Trump’s recognition that it will take a strong leader with national prominence to change the direction of our national housing policy and break down the barriers that have hindered the availability and affordability of housing across the country. We are enthusiastic about the high profile that the President-Elect has placed on this important agency with Dr. Carson’s nomination. We look forward to working with Dr. Carson and his team to ensure he recognizes that a robust manufactured housing market is critical to increasing the availability of affordable housing, which is in short supply in many parts of the country. During this critical time for our nation’s housing markets, manufactured housing provides a reliable, and affordable supply of homes that meet a variety of housing and lifestyle needs."

National Association of Realtors President William E. Brown commented that Dr. Carson "has a big job ahead," adding that the trade group congratulated Dr. Carson "on accepting this important challenge and wish him the very best of luck in meeting the task ahead."

However, the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress issued a blistering denunciation of the nomination of Dr. Carson. "Dr. Ben Carson does not have the necessary and relevant housing or community development experience that the nation’s many aspiring homeowners and struggling renters desperately need," said Sarah Edelman, director of housing policy. "Dr. Carson is a nominee whose top aide recently acknowledged that 'Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.' American communities cannot afford to wait for him to get up to speed. In addition to a lack of knowledge in the areas of housing and community development, his stated opposition to fully enforcing the Fair Housing Act—landmark civil rights legislation that promotes equality within U.S. communities—is a particularly troubling sign."  

And House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued her own criticism of the choice. “Dr. Ben Carson is a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice to lead a department as complex and consequential as Housing and Urban Development," she said in a press statement. “Our country deserves a HUD Secretary with the relevant experience to protect the rights of homeowners and renters, particularly in low income and minority communities, and to ensure that everyone in our country can have access to safe and affordable housing without facing discrimination or homelessness. There is no evidence that Dr. Carson brings the necessary credentials to hold a position with such immense responsibilities and impact on families and communities across America.”

Also offering a negative view was the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. "There is little publicly available information to indicate that Dr. Carson has any meaningful experience or expertise in fair housing policy," said the organization on its website. "Rather, all publicly available information connecting Dr. Carson to federal housing policy indicates a deep incomprehension of its significance and scope. In 2015, for example, in Experimenting with Failed Socialism Again, Dr. Carson wrote that the new HUD rule was a 'government-engineered attempt to legislate racial equality' and reflected a history of 'failed social experiments.' Dr. Carson’s views are cause for concern as they reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the FHA and its mandate to affirmatively further fair housing, a mandate acknowledged by both Democratic and Republican HUD Secretaries."

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