Ben Carson Tried to Block Poor People’s Access to ‘High-Opportunity’ Communities — And Failed

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Ben Carson
HUD Secretary Ben Carson once called the Small Area Fair Market Rent program a “mandated social-engineering scheme.” (Image courtesy of the Gazette Review).

Come January 1, 2018, low-income Americans will have better access to affordable housing in affluent neighborhoods as well as quality schools, thanks to a judge’s recent ruling.

A federal judge on Saturday, Dec. 23, ordered the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to enact an Obama–era rule that would enable low–income people to afford housing in areas with better schools and job opportunity in the new year, according to ThinkProgress. The ruling comes four months after the agency, under the leadership of retired neurosurgeon and Secretary Ben Carson, announced it would delay the effort from taking effect for two years.

Carson’s efforts were foiled, however, with Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell ruling that the department failed to provide “notice and comment or particularized findings” to justify delaying the rule.

Under the Small Area Fair Market Rent program, the formula for housing subsidies would be tweaked, giving Section 8 voucher recipients more money to rent homes in what it calls “high-opportunity” communities and lower the amount they receive for housing in “low-opportunity” communities, The Atlantic reported. The change will affect 23 metro cities across the U.S. and switch from an approach based on city-wide rent to one based on zip code.

The fact that the program wouldn’t have cost the HUD an extra dime should’ve been music to the Trump Administration’s ears, as its focus has been set on slashing government costs. Still, the department moved to delay the program, claiming it needed more time to further evaluate its costs and benefits.

In 2015, Carson even dubbed the initiative one of Obama’s “mandated social-engineering schemes.”

“These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse,” the former presidential candidate wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Times. “There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens. But based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.”

Now that the program has been green-lit once again, voucher holders — who happen to be largely Black American — will be able to afford homes in more expensive communities, thus giving their families access to a better education and jobs. The lower crime rates are a plus too.

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