After reading the signed proclamation by the President of the United States for the 2018 National Fair Housing Month, I almost choked on my coffee. Trump proclaims that his administration will provide evidence to reform and enhance the development of affordable housing, free from discrimination. His administration intends to deliver on the promise outlined in the 1968 Fair Housing Act to end prejudice and unlawful discriminatory practices in the sale, lease, and financing of housing, while expanding the availability of affordable housing and promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities. A few weeks after Trump signed this Fair Housing Proclamation, fair housing advocates are planning on suing the Secretary of HUD, Dr. Ben Carson.
Dr. Carson suspended a 2015 ruling put into place by President Obama. The 2015 legislation required cities and communities that receive federal housing dollars to draft a plan to desegregate communities or risk losing federal funds. The 2015 ruling was developed over a six-year period, and it required all communities to draft a plan that would assess segregation patterns, diagnose barriers to fair housing and develop a corrective plan of action. Cities without HUD approved plans would no longer receive federal housing funds. This legislation came nearly fifty years after the Fair Housing Act was approved. It was a part of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that ensures a child’s zip code won’t determine his or her future. Carson and his administration said it was too hard to administer this 2015 law so he suspended it.
More recently, last month Carson stated he was going to raise the rent of low-income families receiving federal housing subsidies. I’m pretty sure raising the rent of the country’s poorest people was not the rationale behind HUD’s mission of eliminating poverty. If it’s to bring this agencies 47 billion budget in alignment with spending, that makes sense. However, Dr. Carson has yet to present a plan that outlines the direction he intends to run this branch of government.
I really wonder why President Trump nominated Dr. Ben Carson and even more, why Dr. Carson accepted the position. The secretary of HUD is a member of the President’s cabinet. They report directly to the president and is 12th in line to assume the position of President should something ever happen. Previous Secretary positions have been held by nominees experienced in public administration, law, or business. There is no question that Carson is a very intelligent man. He’s a retired neuro surgeon. With a net worth of at least $30 million, he doesn’t need the salary from this position.
This branch of government is involved in fighting housing discrimination and works to support first time homebuyers with overcoming barriers that may disqualify them for bank loans. In addition to enforcing fair housing laws that bar racial discrimination by financial institutions and landlords, HUD oversees a million units of public housing and administers billions in community funds. Carson seems to be single-handedly dismantling all the work staff and previous leaders have accomplished since HUD’s creation.
We need to stay woke and follow the billions of dollars that are floating through this branch of government. People are complaining that Dr. Carson spent $31,000 on a dining room table. With a $47-billion-dollar budget, that table was pennies in his budget.
The changes Carson and Trump are making on government policy will impact the lives of millions of families and perpetuate housing segregation.