Statement from Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, on President-elect Trump’s Appointment of Ben Carson to Lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is committed to working with the next Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary to ensure the country’s poorest families have decent, safe and affordable homes. HUD oversees federal rental assistance programs that serve over 5 million of the country’s lowest income households, as well as administers tens of billions of dollars in community development, disaster recovery, and homeless assistance funding, enforces fair housing laws and acts as one of the largest mortgage insurers in the world. HUD plays a critical role in alleviating poverty, stabilizing and revitalizing communities, increasing the educational attainment and incomes of low income families, and providing safe, affordable homes to deeply poor elderly or disabled families. 

With so many qualified candidates to choose from with deep knowledge of, and commitment to, affordable housing solutions for the poorest families, and with the housing crisis reaching new heights across the country, Dr. Ben Carson’s nomination to serve as HUD secretary is surprising and concerning, given his lack of experience with or knowledge of the programs he would oversee. 

The little that we do know about Dr. Carson’s position on affordable housing is a reason for concern. In July 2015, Dr. Carson published an editorial describing fair housing as an Obama administration “experiment,” revealing a fundamental misunderstanding of obligations that have been around since 1968, the year the Fair Housing Act was made law. A community’s obligation to affirmatively further fair housing is not new–what is new is the data, tools, and guidance that the Obama administration provided to enable communities to better meet their fair housing obligations.

Ultimately, fair housing means all families, including the poorest ones, are able to choose the neighborhoods in which to live based on what’s best for themselves and their families. Providing this choice requires that we work towards making every community one of opportunity. This goal - and the affirmatively furthering fair housing rule as a means to achieve it–should fit squarely within President-elect Trump’s urban revitalization plan.

NLIHC will continue working with our members, partners, and allies towards ensuring that the country’s poorest people have safe and affordable homes. With just one in four of the lowest income households receiving needed housing assistance, we urge President-elect Trump, Dr. Carson and the entire incoming administration to commit to expanding proven solutions to end homelessness and housing poverty, once and for all. 

Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.