Target: President-elect Donald Trump
Goal: Commit to real affordable housing development and appoint a Secretary with the kind of qualifications the job merits.
Ben Carson, it seems, is Trump’s number one pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). However, Carson lacks any experience relevant to developing affordable and inclusive housing. During his presidential campaign, Carson never so much as mentioned any policies that would promote low-cost housing or neighborhood integration. When questioned on Fox News about his knowledge of HUD, Carson was able to cite only his own experience growing up in a city.
Funnily enough, Carson has already turned down a position on Trump’s Cabinet, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, stating that he was unprepared to run a federal agency. Which, of course, leads to the question: Is Housing and Urban Development not a federal agency? Or is it simply not to be taken seriously under a Trump administration?
Another of Trump’s top picks for HUD, according to news sources, was Rob Astorino, an executive who made his career fighting against integration in Westchester County, New York. Under the Obama administration, HUD put pressure on Westchester to create more affordable housing, which Astorino resisted, accusing the agency of “social engineering.” So two of Trump’s top choices for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development are a person with no qualifications or experience, and another who opposes affordable housing initiatives.
As a businessman with luxury apartments and hotels all over the world, Trump obviously had little reason to care about affordable housing or integration. As President of the United States, however, he’s going to have to. Sign our petition urging President-elect Trump to get serious about urban development, and make a secretary appointment with real qualifications and a dedication to progress.
Dear Mr. Trump,
I was interested to hear that you will likely appoint Ben Carson to your cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – this after Carson turned down an appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services, on the grounds of being unprepared. I have a feeling that Carson’s career as a neurosurgeon would make him much more qualified to run Health and Human Services than Housing and Urban Development, in which he has no experience to speak of.
Under President Obama, HUD promoted smart-growth goals, aimed at achieving the maximum potential of cities. Neighborhood segregation, unfair zoning laws, and prohibitively high rent prices are serious problems plaguing cities in our country, and preventing them from being the economic and cultural engines that they ought to be.
As a New Yorker, surely you can understand the value of cities and the senseless tragedy of prohibiting progress. I urge you to treat Housing and Urban Development with the respect and consideration it deserves, and choose a secretary whom the public can trust to do good work.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey