Ben Carson bashes “imaginary belief” that HUD aims to dismantle fair housing protections

Responds to WaPo editorial calling HUD's Facebook charges "curious"

Ben Carson said his critics have it all wrong – he is not trying to unravel the fair housing rules put into play by the Obama administration, he is trying to uphold them.

This is the gist of a heated response that the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development wrote to an op-ed penned recently by The Washington Post’s editorial board.

The article discussed HUD’s enforcement action against Facebook. Late last month, the agency levied charges against the social media giant for violating the Fair Housing Act by allowing targeted ads.   

But while WaPo said Facebook’s ad features were creating a real problem that warranted action, it also said Carson’s move to penalize the company should be met with skepticism.

“The housing secretary’s concern is curious, given the hostility toward anti-discrimination efforts he has previously manifested,” the op-ed stated.

“As a matter of policy, the housing department under this administration has seemed more interested in dismantling housing protections than ensuring they are respected,” the authors continued. “Mr. Carson has unraveled an Obama-era rule requiring communities to address patterns of segregation, scaled back investigations and removed the words ‘inclusive’ and ‘free from discrimination’ in his agency’s mission.”

It goes on to suggest that Carson’s sudden interest in preventing housing discrimination stems from a Republican-led campaign to lash out at tech companies for their perceived left-leaning censorship.

“They are threatening to remove sites’ immunity to prevent so-called viewpoint discrimination, and HUD’s charge that Facebook is liable for advertisers’ unfair practices is a sign that the administration is serious about scaling back these treasured protections,” the WaPo stated. “In other words, the right thing may be happening for the wrong reason.”

Not so, said Carson.

Skepticism of the agency’s actions is based on some “imaginary belief” that Carson and HUD are not interested in protecting fair housing, he wrote, adding that “those apprehensions were built on sand.”

“The editorial suggested my past statements on the role of government in our public life indicate a lack of commitment to fairness. They do not,” Carson continued.

“HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities that are free from discrimination,” he concluded. “My personal approach to this mission is simple: HUD will always be a force for fairness.”

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