Trump Chooses Ben Carson to Lead HUD
Ben Carson, who took Donald J. Trump on a tour of blighted neighborhoods in Detroit during the presidential campaign, including his boyhood home, has been chosen by Mr. Trump to oversee one of the government’s main efforts to lift American cities as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, was an early endorser of Mr. Trump after ending his own presidential bid.
“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Monday morning. “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 added. “He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
With no experience in government or running a large bureaucracy, Mr. Carson, 65, publicly waffled over whether to join the administration. He will oversee an agency with a $47 billion budget, bringing to the job a philosophical opposition to government programs that encourage what he calls “dependency” and engage in “social engineering.”
He has no expertise in housing policy. Raised by a dauntless mother with a grammar-school education who sometimes turned to the government for food assistance, he stressed in his autobiography that individual effort, not government programs, was the key to overcoming poverty.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees programs that provide vouchers and other rental assistance for five million low-income families, fights urban blight and helps struggling homeowners stave off foreclosures.
Housing policy was rarely mentioned on the campaign trail by candidates in either party. When Mr. Trump spoke of “inner cities,” he painted with a broad brush to describe the lives of poor blacks and Hispanics as “a disaster,” pleading for their votes by asking, “What do you have to lose?”
In an opinion article in 2015 for The Washington Times, Mr. Carson compared an Obama administration housing regulation to “the failure of school busing” because it would place affordable housing “primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents.”
The rule, known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, was years in the making and designed to end decades-old segregation by offering affluent areas incentives to build affordable housing. Critics, including Mr. Carson, called it government overreach.
Barbara Sard, a former official at the housing department during President Obama’s first term, said Mr. Carson’s view was a misunderstanding of the regulation and its origin in the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The rule also included development funds for poor neighborhoods.