As HUD secretary, Ben Carson would be tasked with
- Doling out subsidies for public housing to cities
- Giving federal grants to city, county and municipal governments for projects ranging from rental vouchers for low-income families to large-scale infrastructure development
- And overseeing natural disaster relief in a nation increasingly wracked by the fallout from climate change.
The danger of Carson’s appointment lies not just in his inexperience, but also in his worldview. Carson grew up poor in Detroit. He said in an interview once that poverty “was more of a choice than anything else, that really depended on just how hard you’re willing to work.” In a later interview with Bloomberg in 2014, Carson said Americans have an “obligation” to pursue eco-friendly development projects, but admitted he was not sold on global warming being real, despite an estimated 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agreeing it is.
“There’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on,” Carson told Bloomberg. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s irrelevant.”
These both bode poorly for Carson’s tenure at HUD. Poverty is not typically a lifestyle people choose, as many of us know; it is often determined by imposed factors like race and geography. Global warming is real, according to scientific evidence.
Not coincidentally, during a phone interview Monday, Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, outlined the top two challenges she believes the HUD office will face under Trump’s presidency:
- Making sure housing is affordable for poor people
- And ensuring that urban areas prepare for the future through sustainable and climate-conscious development.