I’m all for President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to “drain the swamp,” but I always assumed he would pick people to his cabinet that understood the field Trump placed them in.
Insert former Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, Trump’s pick to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A retired neurosurgeon, Carson has as much experience formulating housing policy as the vast majority of Americans — absolutely none.
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But Carson has other qualifications. He grew up in the poor, inner city of Detroit and wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Times, which conflated busing to desegregate schools with desegregating housing in America.
Trump’s transition team said of the selection, “Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”
Well, let’s look at what this brilliant mind has said about housing. Carson’s commentary and suggestions for improving the current housing situation in the U.S. are at complete odds with his racial cohort, having criticized efforts by the Obama administration to use its regulatory powers to improve racial integration in housing.
Tapping Carson means he will be charged with executing Trump’s “urban renewal agenda,” which is a nice name with no specific policies behind it. It is anyone’s guess what Carson will make of this agenda, but we can decipher a few clues from his aforementioned opinion piece.
First, he definitely understands certain factors in America that have caused segregated housing, which has an extremely prevalent history throughout America, but draws all housing inequities from the desegregation of schools, not from other inherently discriminatory practices by the white majority.
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Second, he isn’t a huge fan of integrated housing, writing against a Supreme Court decision narrowly upholding the use of “disparate impact” analysis in determining whether municipal housing policies have a racially discriminatory effect, whether intentional or not. Because of this ruling claims of disparate impact can fall under the umbrella of housing discrimination.
Other than that, it’s anyone’s guess what Carson means to housing, specifically for low-income individuals, in the U.S.
Aaron Reilly ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in social work and economics.