More blacks should think through the prism of opportunities Donald Trump’s presidency can bring.
Ben Carson’s nomination as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be debated endlessly over the coming months, with critics homing in on his lack of housing policy and government experience. But in his new job, Carson will be in an excellent position to do much for the race.
Over the past 50 years, blacks have bought into the mindset of dependency. Nevertheless, HUD — and, by extension, Carson — is uniquely situated to fight against poverty, crime, bad education, poor health and other negative outcomes tied to instability at home.
Blacks should be alarmed by any attempts to sully the honorable Dr. Carson. With a bit of personal initiative, he can change the lives and opportunities of millions of black people. The political pundit chatter is that the black former neurosurgeon is unfit for the job. It’s all talk. It’s foolish for blacks to even entertain that a trained academic could not run a government agency.
Actually, in his new job, Carson could go down as an urban legend by bringing new focus and implementation tools and processes among African-Americans and cities. Additionally, he is receiving counsel from Alphonso Jackson, former HUD secretary under President George W. Bush, who has on-the-job training, having ran public-housing programs in St. Louis and D.C.
The mainstream media would lead you to believe that there’s a gulf between Carson and lots of African-Americans, but Trump may have put the right guy in the right place.
In a Facebook post shortly before Trump’s decision, Carson said: “We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid.”
When the Senate approves Carson to run HUD, he will head a $47 billion agency that oversees federal rental assistance programs that service more than five million of the country’s lowest-income households. HUD’s housing choice voucher program (Section 8) helps low-income families rent apartments in the private market.
HUD also oversees a million units of public housing run by local governments, administers billions in community development funds, insures mortgages of more than one-fifth of all homeowners and enforces fair housing laws that bar racial discrimination by lenders and landlords.
The department, which was created by President Lyndon Johnson during the 1960s, is tasked with managing the Federal Housing Administration, which insures more than $1 trillion in housing loans. It also manages billions of dollars in public housing money, rental assistance and homelessness programs. It funnels billions into local grants that revitalize affordable housing and public facilities and plays a crucial role in distributing disaster relief funds.
Housing is a major component of the gross national product. Real estate plays an integral role in the U.S. economy. Residential real estate provides housing for families — it’s often the greatest source of wealth and savings for many of them. Commercial real estate — which includes apartment buildings — create spaces for jobs in retail, offices and manufacturing. Real estate income provides a source of revenue for millions.
Whatever national infrastructure programs Trump implements, the 8,300-person HUD can have great economic impact for blacks under Carson’s leadership.
An effective Carson tenure would mean more money to help Americans in HUD’s mission to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. Under Carson, the department can strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy, meet needs for quality affordable rental homes, utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life and build inclusive and sustainable communities.
A key component of Carson’s message is that discipline, hard work and dedication could lift people out of despair. With classic conservative, pull-yourself-up-by-the bootstraps ideology, he can improve urban economic development by operating things in effective and efficient ways.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.