Former presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson accepted President-Elect Donald Trump’s nomination to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Monday—an appointment, which came despite Carson’s initial reservations, that marks the first African-American selected to serve in a senior role in the new administration.
“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Trump said in a statement. “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 is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
“I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration,” added Carson. “I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”
The appointment has been met with mixed reactions from those in housing, some of whom express optimism, while others point to Carson’s inexperience.
“Despite his apparent lack of affordable housing experience, with his communication skills, Dr. Carson has the ability to bring the message of poverty alleviation to people nationwide,” said Robert C. Moss, chairman of the Housing Advisory Group and national director of Governmental Affairs of CohnReznick’s affordable housing efforts. “I would hope he would quickly learn the importance of HUD and would try to make it better, stronger and more efficient.”
“I want to congratulate Dr. Ben Carson on being chosen to be nominated as the Secretary of HUD,” said David H. Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), in a statement on the nomination. “Housing is one of the largest contributors to the health and success of the overall economy, and, as such, we must continue to recognize its significance. MBA looks forward to working with Dr. Carson in helping to build out a well-rounded team of housing experts, with a deep technical understanding of the issues, at HUD, FHA and Ginnie Mae.”
“REALTORS® know that the incoming secretary of Housing and Urban Development has a big job ahead,” said National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President William E. Brown in a statement on the nomination. “Potential homebuyers face a range of hurdles, from rising prices to mortgage credit that’s burdened by fees and extra costs. We congratulate Dr. Carson on accepting this important challenge and wish him the very best of luck in meeting the task ahead.”
“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,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), said in a statement on the nomination.
“The little that we do know about Dr. Carson’s position on affordable housing is a reason for concern,” continued Yentel, citing Carson’s Washington Times editorial, published last year, that referred to fair housing as an “experiment.”
“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,” Yentel said.
“[The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)] congratulates Dr. Carson on his nomination as HUD secretary,” said Ed Brady, NAHB chairman, in a statement on the nomination. “He is a thoughtful leader who is sure to assemble a professional team of policy experts and be a great spokesperson for housing. Upon his confirmation to the Cabinet post, NAHB looks forward to working with Dr. Carson to promote pro-housing policies that support homeownership, provide rental housing opportunities for low- and middle-income households, and remove regulatory barriers that are needlessly raising housing costs for hard-working American families.”
Carson joins Shawn Krause, executive vice president of Government Advocacy for Quicken Loans, and Jimmy Kemp, both of whom were recently named to Trump’s HUD transition team.