Yesterday, Dr. Ben Carson had his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which is considering his nomination to be the next Secretary of the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Many of us interested in federal housing policy were curious to hear what Dr. Carson had to say concerning the Fair Housing Act as well as any HUD initiatives as what he has previously said either disagrees with or does not address many of the issues HUD faces every day. Make no mistake, many public housing advocates have been exceedingly nervous about what HUD might look like with Dr. Carson in charge. What can I report today? With the hearing now concluded, unless something new comes to light, it seems pretty clear that Dr. Carson will be confirmed.
Indeed, at least one major media outlet reported that Dr. Carson “coasted” through the hearing as almost none of the Senators got into specific details concerning housing policy. With respect to fair housing, Dr. Carson said he would enforce the anti-discrimination laws already on the books — something that Democrats and housing advocates have not taken for granted.
When asked about government programs to aid the poor, Dr. Carson replied that “safety net programs are important, and I would never advocate abolishing them without an alternative.” He also noted that the best thing the government can do to someone on public assistance is to help and get them off of it. Some Senators did not use all of their allotted questioning time. Others did not get into any type of detailed discussion regarding any possible changes Dr. Carson wants to see in housing policy.
So, at the end of the day it looks like we know who will lead HUD in the next administration. For now, we will continue to comply with the law is currently interpreted. Possible HUD enforcement priority changes involving issues such as disparate impact and the use of criminal background screens will need to wait for another day. I will keep watching.
Just A Thought.