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EXPECTATIONS FOR HUD UNDER CARSON

Updated: Mar 3

Many are concerned that Mr. Carson lacks the experience to handle the job. Especially since decisions made under this administration will likely affect the housing market well after this administration. Like Donald Trump, Mr. Carson’s decorated career affords him no experience in government or running a large bureaucracy, and no expertise in housing… As Carson’s statements are all over the map, from the importance of strengthening inner cities to promoting individual independence, it is hard to get a pulse on what a Carson Administration will do.


Donald Trump has officially nominated Ben Carson to serve as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Known as HUD, the federal agency is responsible for assisting individuals to secure affordable housing, especially in a time when rents and home prices continue to rise.


Ben Carson, a brilliant neurosurgeon and Detroit native, was born into poverty in the inner cities of Detroit, Michigan. After what he describes as a rebellious childhood, Mr. Carson graduated from Yale University and Michigan State Medical School. When he was 33, he was named Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


1. His early life while growing up in Detroit connects him to a majority of the people who benefit directly from HUD. This perhaps will be an advantage over previous HUD directors. The question is will this be enough?


Many are concerned that Mr. Carson lacks the experience to handle the job. Especially since decisions made under this administration will likely affect the housing market well after this administration. Like Donald Trump, Mr. Carson’s decorated career affords him no experience in government or running a large bureaucracy, and no expertise in housing.


Diane Yentel, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an organization dedicated to ensuring low income families receive affordable housing, stated, “[w]ith so many qualified candidates to choose from with deep knowledge of and commitment to affordable housing solutions … Dr. Ben Carson’s nomination to serve as HUD secretary is surprising and concerning.”


2. This will not be the first HUD Secretary without housing experience. Steve Preston served under the Bush Administration from 2008 to 2009. Although Preston had experience running the Small Business Administration, a government agency, his background was focused on finance. Preston shook things up quite a bit and accomplished much in his short tenure at HUD. Most controversial and notably are the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and an expansion of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) refinancing.


3. Preston’s effectiveness lends optimism to Carson’s lack of experience. Sometimes knowledge and experience in a particular area gets one jaded and near-sighted, focusing too much on intricate details, rather than fearlessly shaking things up. Carson has no affection or sentiment for HUD’s current policies and state-of-affairs. This may allow him, once briefed and with a qualified team, to make the changes necessary to fix the areas that may be broken.


“HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.”


4. With a budget in excess of 47 billion dollars, HUD runs the Federal Housing Administration, which provides loans with low money down to allow individuals an opportunity to become homeowners. It also funds the Community Development Block Grant program, a source of funding used by cities for a wide range of community development needs including disaster relief.


5. HUD funds the Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8), which cities rely on to help pay for housing for the poor. Finally, HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which makes housing discrimination illegal.


Bipartisan housing experts agree that dealing with poverty, which in turn leads to crime, will be the biggest challenge the next HUD secretary will have to face. The American Enterprise Institute, an organization which conducts research on political, national and worldly matters, cited housing assistance programs as among those “ripe for reform’’ under the new Trump Administration.

These hot button issues seem to be on Carson’s radar. The New York Times quoted Carson saying, “[w]e cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities,” “[w]e have to get beyond the promises and start really doing something.”


6. However, Carson is opposed to government dependency, he was quoted by the Washington Post, while referring to his mother, stating, “[s]he didn’t like the idea of dependency.”


7. Carson, constantly using his own life story, stresses individual strength and self-help over government assistance. House Speaker Paul Ryan Tweeted that Carson is “a shining example of overcoming poverty. He will put focus on dignity rather than dependence.”


8. As Carson’s statements are all over the map, from the importance of strengthening inner cities to promoting individual independence, it is hard to get a pulse on what a Carson Administration will do. According to Carson’s own statements, he views homosexuality as a choice, doubts the human race contributes to global warming, and thinks abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest.


9. Carson has proven to be just as unpredictable as the current state of politics has been, particularly over the past year.


Carson said in a statement to The Washington Post, “having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water, quite frankly.”

As is the case with all cabinet secretaries, Carson needs to be confirmed by the Senate. This election has been nothing but surprises. Democrats seem ready to fight over Carson’s appointment. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has referred to Carson as, “a disturbingly unqualified choice.” Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley was quoted saying he was “deeply concerned that the incoming Administration has proposed someone who believes ‘poverty is really more of a choice than anything else’ to lead American urban development. Telling people that their lack of means is their own problem is not a solution.”


10. Carson may not have government bureaucracy experience nor experience managing a multi-billion-dollar budget, but it certainly is not neurosurgery. Only time will tell how this story is going to end.



Note: Sabine K. Franco is the principal attorney at Franco Law Firm, P.C., a general practice firm located in Garden City New York. Ms. Franco focuses a third of her practice on real estate transactions.

1 http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/05/us/politics/ben-carson-housing-urban-developmenttrump.html?_r=1
2 http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/doctor-bencarson-hud-secretary-will-affect-housing-market/
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Preston
4 https://archives.hud.gov/local/hi/newsletters/honolulunews0510.pdf
5 https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/communitydevelopment/programs
6 https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/communitydevelopment/programs
7 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/12/05/trump-to-nominate-carsonto-lead-u-s-housing-urbanpolicy/?utm_term=.0c8fb959bf36
8 http://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trumpadministration/2016/12/ben-carson-hudsecretary-trump-232184
9 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/12/05/trump-to-nominate-carsonto-lead-u-s-housing-urban-policy/?utm_term=.0c8fb959bf36
10 https://www.thenation.com/article/with-bencarson-at-hud-americas-cities-really-could-become-hellholes/

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