Today, at a full Committee hearing with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, made the following statement:
Thank you Mr. Chairman. America is currently in the midst of the worst rental housing crisis that we’ve ever experienced, and it is hitting our lowest income families the hardest. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the United States has a shortage of 7.2 million affordable rental units for extremely low income households. Our country is also at a virtual standstill when it comes to reducing homelessness, and in some parts of the country, homelessness has reached crisis proportions. We also face homeownership challenges, with minority homeownership rates continuing to lag even as the housing market recovers.
In the face of the immense housing needs in our country, President Trump chose Dr. Ben Carson to serve as the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Secretary of HUD is supposed to be at the forefront of our efforts to create strong communities; expand access to safe, decent, and affordable housing; and enforce fair housing rights. Housing is the foundation on which our entire society is built. It is the platform for economic mobility and well-being. It is a crucial part of our national economy. It is a necessary human right. We need strong leadership and a bold vision for HUD in order to expand access to affordable housing in this country.
Unfortunately, I have seen nothing to indicate that Secretary Carson is up to the challenge. Secretary Carson has expressed views that are deeply alarming and antithetical to his role at HUD, such as describing poverty as “more of a choice than anything else,” and saying he doesn’t think public housing should be too “comfortable.”
His few actions so far as HUD Secretary are deeply troubling as well. Secretary Carson has supported a budget that slashes funding for critical housing programs and proposes harmful rent increases on some of the most vulnerable American families. He has also moved to roll back important Obama Administration policies and initiatives with little to no explanation.
So I am very much looking forward to hearing from Secretary Carson today about his actions so far and his plans for serving our nation’s most vulnerable families. Thank you and I yield back.