A Senate Committee on Thursday evaluated Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary nominee Ben Carson in a hearing to confirm the position, extending a welcome to the retired neurosurgeon who, in his words, experienced “housing insecurity” firsthand.
“It’s difficult for a child to learn at school if he or she doesn’t have an adequate place to live,” he told the Committee. “I understand housing insecurity.”
Carson shared that he plans to take a “holistic” approach to housing, calling on cooperation from the private sector. He also reiterated that he does not intend for his plans for the agency to financially benefit President-Elect Donald Trump or his real estate assets.
“It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American particularly,” he said.
In addition, Carson addressed the recent reduction in Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed mortgage insurance premiums, telling the Committee he would “examine” the cut.
“Certainly, if confirmed, I am going to work with the FHA administrator and other financial experts to really examine that policy,” he said. The Trump Administration was unaware of the reduction until just prior the announcement.
Outgoing HUD Secretary Julián Castro expressed concerns about the fate of the agency in an interview with NPR last week, saying, “I’d be lying if I said I’m not concerned about the possibility of going backward over the next four years.” Castro in his exit memo “[urged] the next Administration to build upon what we have achieved and continue fulfilling the vision of making a decent, affordable home available to every citizen.”
Members of the housing industry overall are embracing the opportunity Carson and the incoming administration present.
“Dr. Carson has shown a commitment to ensuring all Americans have access to a safe and affordable place they can call home,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Bill Brown in a statement. “With that in mind, we’re urging members of the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm him as Secretary of HUD.
“It’s no small task setting policies that support homeownership and real estate investment, and Dr. Carson is to be commended for taking on the challenge,” said Brown. “We look forward to working with Dr. Carson in his new capacity on behalf of that important mission.”
“The nomination of Dr. Ben Carson as the Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the Committee the chance to discuss ways to rejuvenate urban cores and strengthen communities,” said Michelle Korsmo, CEO of the American Land Title Association (ALTA), in a statement. “ALTA and its members look forward to working with Dr. Carson to promote policies that will strengthen the nation’s housing and ensure all consumers looking to purchase a home have access to affordable credit.”
“Housing and education are the two places where kids live, so there’s the potential to have the experience from one really be a massive benefit to the other, because both are very important, foundational pieces,” says OwnAmerica CEO Greg Rand, citing Carson’s background in education. “[Carson’s] experience growing up is going to provide a baseline for his objective, which is to create a situation where living in public and subsidized and low-income housing is not a way of life—it won’t hold them back.”
President-Elect Trump nominated Carson for the role of HUD Secretary in November, pointing to Carson’s “brilliant mind” and passion for “strengthening communities and families within those communities.”
“I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need,” Carson said on accepting the nomination. “We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”
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