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Housing industry rallies around Ben Carson for HUD secretary

What controversy?

Do you remember that controversy about former presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson being nominated as the next secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development? No? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

As it turns out, the conflict about his lack of experience or qualifications for the role seem to have gone down the drain as the industry now rallies in its support for Carson’s nomination.

As a reminder, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for HUD secretary not only shocked the industry, but also divided it. Even Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the House and the current highest ranking Democrat, chimed in on her Twitter account, criticizing the nominee.

However, the division seems to have dissipated as many now begin to stand with Carson. HousingWire Digital Reporter Brena Swanson wrote that Carson’s senate hearing was “all bark and no bite” from the senators.

But the senators aren’t the only ones who seem to now be in favor of Carson. Earlier this week, the Mortgage Bankers Association wrote a letter to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee, urging it to confirm Carson as quickly as possible.

The National Association of Realtors also stepped up in its support of Carson by sending a letter to the committee urging it to quickly confirm Carson as HUD secretary.

“Dr. Carson has shown a clear commitment to ensuring all Americans have access to a safe and affordable place they can call home,” NAR President William Brown stated in his letter. “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,” Brown stated. “We look forward to working with Dr. Carson in his new capacity on behalf of that important mission.”

One expert, who worked at HUD for over 15 years, even explained that Carson brings unique experience to the position.

“Something I think he’s uniquely qualified to understand is the connection between the environment people live in and their outcomes,” said Marion McFadden, Enterprise Community Partners vice president of public policy.

“He’s dedicated his entire career to helping people, so while that’s not a career in housing policy, there’s every reason to believe he really will be confirmed,” McFadden said in an interview with HousingWire. “There’s no magic formula for what makes a great HUD secretary.”

While the industry is rallying in their support of Carson, McFadden explained one of the challenges Carson will face once in the position of HUD secretary.

“He talked a little bit about being willing to cut the budget, and the reality is that there is a tremendous need among Americans for assistance from programs like HUD programs,” she said.

She explained that while Carson’s views align with the president-elect right now when it comes to budget cutting, she said he may soon learn how much funding really is needed at HUD.

“There’s not enough money already,” she said. “The challenge for him will be how he squares that with his desire to support the president’s call for cutting the budget.”

But while the majority of the industry certainly seem to stand with Carson, he still has his critics. The Center for Responsible Lending continues to fight against the nomination, and even called on Congress to “continue to rigorously examine Dr. Carson’s experience and qualifications for this very important role.”

“The work of the Department of Housing and Urban Development contributes greatly to helping hard working families pursue their American dreams,” CRL Executive Vice President Nikitra Bailey said.

“Safe, decent, and affordable housing free of discrimination is a vital rung on the opportunity ladder,” Bailey said. “Dr. Ben Carson’s experience and prior statements raise great concerns about his ability to lead HUD and carry out its important work.”

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