Friday wraps up a busy week for Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. And in a fashion atypical to previous HUD leaders, Carson took to social media to talk about his department's progress.
The secretary spent the week promoting National Homeownership month, defending President Donald Trump’s budget and attending the National Housing Policy Symposium.
“The importance of homeownership is apparent to all of us: security, certainty, safety, wealth creation, a path forward, self-sufficiency, a place to live with loved ones, to raise our families, the location of our neighborhood,” Carson said, per his prepared remarks.
Then, stepping away from the more light-heartened housing appearances, Carson sat in the hot seat before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday to defend the controversial proposed HUD budget.
It’s a tough position given that affordable housing advocates highly contested the proposal and say it would be catastrophic.
Under Trump’s budget proposal, HUD’s funding would decrease about 13.2% to $40.68 billion.
That decrease would lead to the elimination of several community development programs, including: Community Development Block Grant Program, Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program.
So, to no surprise, they’re not the biggest supporters of the program.
But, Carson still stands with the president, saying “We have to stop the bleeding if we’re going to get healing,” according to an article in The Guardian over the Senate hearing.
From the article:
While the atmosphere at the hearing was largely congenial, Democratic senators voiced their strong disapproval of the suggested downsizing of the department. Collins described the cuts in her opening remarks as “stinging” and said she was “deeply troubled” by them.
“It would be much nicer if we just had an infinite pot of money, but we don’t,” he said.
“This has been forced on us,” he said of the budget. “The old paradigm is the government rides in on a white horse with buckets of money and says, ‘build these facilities for these people’.” The new paradigm, he said, would involve the government providing seed money for new projects and attracting investments from not-for-profit groups and the private sector.
For one tense moment, the article noted, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, argued in response to Carson that the budget “is not forced upon us, except that it is the priority of this administration to cut taxes in the amount of anywhere from $1tn to $5tn over the next 10 years”.
But to Carson, the situation was in fact “forced upon us by years of fiscal irresponsibility,” the article stated.
So how will Carson operate HUD will a significantly smaller budget?
According to the Guardian article, he told Senate that his approach to managing the agency will one of doing more with less, and suggested that greater efficiencies would ensure that HUD could offer the same assistance as in the past.
As the future of the HUD budget remains under question even after the hearing, Carson returned to promoting National Homeownership at the end of the week, wrapping it up by attending the National Housing Policy Symposium (live tweets shown below).
The National Housing Conference, a nonprofit dedicated to educating decision makers and the public about federal, state and local affordable housing policies, held the annual symposium on new directions in federal housing policy on Friday.
Here’s a series of tweets from Carson’s account on the event.
The state of the housing market is stable, secure, and sound... and much of the credit goes to people in this room pic.twitter.com/2hHtRc8jKE— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) June 9, 2017
"The Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016" will allow for more people, including Millennials, to use FHA to buy a condo— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) June 9, 2017
This budget seeks to preserve rental assistance for 4.5 million households pic.twitter.com/yRo6nS7tdX— Ben Carson (@SecretaryCarson) June 9, 2017
And that wraps up the week from Carson. This is only the beginning though as Carson has a long road ahead at the helm of the biggest housing agency, with the National Homeownership Month simply the start.