Spotlight Exclusives

Carson Praises Homeownership, Avoids Trump Budget in HUD Speech

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Ben Carson, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), called home ownership the “essence of freedom” in remarks Thursday commemorating National Home Ownership Month. “We know that home ownership is the thread that runs through most every aspect of our economy,” Carson said.

At the National Home Ownership Forum at HUD’s Washington headquarters, Carson said that potential home buyers now find a “relatively stable” market that has largely recovered from the financial turbulence of 2008.

“Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But the big shifts we’re seeing have settled down into a steady upward climb,” Carson said.

While not mentioning specifics, Carson indicated that government needs and continues to play a role in enforcing fair housing and mortgage practices. “We must be prudent and wise, far-reaching and visionary,” Carson said. “We need ethical behavior and risk within smart boundaries and best practices personally and financially. The consequences of irresponsible behavior . . . ripple into every enterprise around the planet.”

Carson made no mention of the Trump administration’s recently released fiscal 2018 budget which calls for a $6.2 billion cut in HUD’s budget, including the elimination of a number of programs that have traditionally helped provide affordable housing to low-income Americans.

The largest proposed cut would end the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which for 40 years has provided cities with money for affordable housing and other community needs. Carson defended the proposed budget, saying in a statement that it would bring “fiscal responsibility at HUD by promoting better efficiencies and leveraging IT modernization.”

Affordable housing advocates, such as Douglas Rice of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, argued that the proposed cuts would be disastrous for low-income communities. “In devastating fashion, President Trump’s budget proposes to reverse the longstanding federal commitment to help at-risk families afford decent, stable homes and support low-income communities’ efforts to grow and prosper,” Rice said.

Other proposed cuts to affordable housing programs in the president’s budget submission include:

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