President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Dr Ben Carson to be his secretary for housing and urban development. HUD is an often overlooked department but it has important responsibilities, including providing housing grants for low income families. By choosing Carson to lead HUD, Trump has re-affirmed his campaign of misinformation about America’s inner cities.
During his election campaign, Trump claimed that America’s inner cities were hotbeds of crime and poverty. Trump claimed that African-Americans living in major cities suffered poverty, a lack of education and regular violent crime. While this message chimed with a certain section of white America, Trump’s claims do not reflect the reality for most of those living in the inner cities.
Analysts at the time discussed how outdated Trump’s views on inner cities. His claim that urban, African-American communities are crime ridden and impoverished came straight out of the Ronald Reagan campaign. The dire state of America’s cities was true in the 1970s and 1980s but over the last 30 years, major improvements have made inner cities far less dangerous.
Ben Carson has personal experience of living in public housing. During his abortive presidential campaign, he discussed his youthful experiences of crime and poverty. He lived for some of his childhood in Detroit but he was a neurosurgeon by his 30s. Critics worry that Carson complete lack of experience in housing policy combined with his decades’ old views on inner city life make him a poor choice.
Many have drawn inspiration from Carson’s story of a boy from public housing done good but that is not a practical approach for HUD. Carson has previously said he was against ‘entitlements’ and is opposed to government spending on many basic social services.
Trump’s choice of Carson means the administration’s approach to to urban development and public housing will be based on outdated views and will do nothing to help those who need HUD’s assistance.