Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon, and all-around nice guy is currently on a “listening tour,” going around America and engaging various communities and outreach programs so he can learn more about affordable housing in America. Some have been welcome recipients to his message of it being our duty to help God’s children and make sure everyone is housed affordably, while others remain skeptical.
Arguably the oddest of Trump’s appointees (Why wasn’t Carson chosen for something like Health and Human Services Secretary?), Carson has spent the last two months doing everything he can to learn about the position he has inexplicably acquired. Although generally not a position where one needs to spend time learning about the job while on it, Carson certainly fits the bill for the swap draining Trump has demanded. Not a stranger to having come from little to now being a successful surgeon, Carson knows what it’s like to be poor, and on the bottom rung of society.
And he is unafraid to share how his experiences with his faith have shaped not only his life, but his outlook on policy. Politico reports – “’I was told that as a government leader, I really shouldn’t talk about God. But I have to tell you, it’s part of who I am,’ Carson said last month, in one of his first speeches as Housing and Urban Development secretary.”
Though he remains untested, and he certainly has a long road ahead of him (according to Politico, every policy job at HUD Agency is unfilled), Carson has detailed a plan aimed at not only finding out affordable and quality housing options, but might also help with job training and creation, too.
Section 3 is a little-known program designed to bring in federal dollars for local housing jobs. “It’s been largely ignored because people say we don’t have local people who know how to weld or have plumbing skills,” Carson said in the interview. “That is true. However, we do have a brain, which means we have the ability to think ahead. We know well more than a year ahead of time when we’re going to start a major project. Why not go in and train people in that area at that time so they’re ready? We’re moving away from the concept of just housing people to the concept of developing people,” Carson later added.
It appears that the idea is to bring in federal tax dollars, train people in construction and other home building related fields (electricians, plumbers, etc…), giving them valuable experience, and then have them build the homes. It isn’t known if the homes built will be for those who engage in the program (thereby giving poor communities valuable job experience and training, while also giving them homes), or if the homes will simply be offset by vouchers for whoever has them. According to Politico, Carson isn’t expected to start rolling out policy positions for the next 90 days.
While the idea seems novel, even hopeful, many are still concerned. Politico also said – “The housing community, a large, unwieldy group that includes labor, civil rights, and faith-based activists as well as Wall Street firms and state and local governments, has been meeting in Washington to coordinate a budget message and present a united front to Congress. The groups take Carson’s assurances that nobody will be ‘thrown out on the streets’ with strong skepticism.”
Their skepticism is necessarily understandable. This is not Carson’s field of expertise, and he is still 3 months away from announcing any concrete details or policies. On top of that, as was stated earlier, his administration’s policy jobs are still vacant. These are the people who will be counseling Secretary Carson, and nobody is there.
Despite the truthfulness of the “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps-message,” there are many who view that kind of message as “problematic.” “It’s a great story, but it’s a dangerous message because not everybody can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. “Nobody does that, including Secretary Carson. He had a lot of support — his mother, his family, his faith. He had a whole context of support.”
The truth of the matter is, frankly, everybody has some support. Nobody is 100% completely alone in anything, and even then, people need to be able to do what needs getting done simply because they themselves know it. This is foundational to our sense of worth.
While he remains untested, Carson’s plan is actually quite brilliant, especially if the plan is to house people in the homes they themselves built. People receive valuable job skills and training – skills they can market and potentially be hired for – and then they build their own house, while getting paid to do so. Truly, this is the epitome of “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps,” and it reinforces the idea that we are not all truly alone. There will be a vast amount of support involved in the implementation and maintenance of such a plan.
And the people get to experience the joy of living in a home they built, with their own two hands. The pride that would beam from the family of a man they know is not only providing for them, but bettering himself, and who knows their home inside and out – it’s the foundation that strong and – dare I say? – ‘Godly’ families are built on.
“Carson told POLITICO that policy proposals are in the works, but in public appearances, the one-time presidential candidate is sticking to his stump speech staples. He prescribes ‘godly principles’ as a cure for the country’s political division and praises housing advocates for ‘putting God’s love into action.’”
I think we can all agree that the world needs a little more of God’s love put into action, no?