The Real Deal New York

HUD Secretary pick Carson says mom kept him away from public housing “danger”

Ex-neurosurgeon has called Obama administration's housing de-segregation efforts "a mandated social-engineering scheme"
December 09, 2016 12:30PM

Boston and Ben Carson

Boston and Ben Carson

Ben Carson, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told a crowd at Yale University on Thursday that his mother kept the family away from public housing in Boston because it was too dangerous.

“Despite what you may have heard from people, she wanted to make sure that we didn’t live in public housing, because there was a lot danger there, and she wanted to shield us from that danger,” said Carson. An adviser of Carson’s incorrectly told the New York Times last week that a young Carson once lived in public housing, an inaccuracy that was corrected on Monday.

From the sound of Carson’s talk, sponsored by the university’s William F. Buckley Program, the presumably non-government funded “tenements” Carson lived in were pretty dangerous themselves. “There was pretty horrendous violence,” Carson recalled, “… gangs, broken glass, and boarded up windows and doors, murders — I had two cousins who were killed.”

Given some of Carson’s past comments regarding government housing programs, many have expressed concerns about how the Trump administration will move in regards to national housing policy. In a Washington Times op-ed last year, Carson sharply criticized HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing program, designed to incentivize desegregation-based planning in the nation’s cities, calling it a “mandated social-engineering scheme.” At Yale, Carson said government “should not keep people in a dependent state. It should be used as a springboard, and not as a hammock.”

Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon, has no previous housing policy experience. Although he officially accepted Trump’s nomination for HUD Secretary earlier this week, he must first be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before he can join the Cabinet.

HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing had a budget of $28.7 billion during fiscal year 2015 with an extra $11.7 billion allotted for other housing programs. Alongside providing mortgage insurance, developing and financing affordable housing, and enforcing fair housing laws, HUD administers the housing choice voucher program, also known as Section 8, which subsidizes the rent of more than 200,000 New Yorkers. [POLITICO]Will Parker