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Carson tours DFW Metroplex

HUD secretary listens to concerns amid pending budget cuts

DENISHA McKNIGHT | 4/24/2017, 8:57 a.m.
Housing and government assistance has become a major concern in Dallas, especially after an investigation by the U.S. Housing and ...
HUD Secretary Ben Carson visits Jubilee Park to meet with city leaders during his stop in Dallas. Stop Six and Southern Dallas were among six aresa in Dallas/Fort Worth he visited to kick off his national listening tour. Denisha McKnight

The Dallas Examiner

Housing and government assistance has become a major concern in Dallas, especially after an investigation by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development of the city’s Housing Department and proper use of federal funding late last year.

Moreover, the Trump administration’s budget plan has outlined cuts in several areas including a $6 billion reduction for the HUD – eliminating funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Choice Neighborhoods, the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program and the Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing.

With about 30 percent of the city’s population living below the poverty level and making as little as $884 a month, residents aren’t able to afford housing and pay the average rent bill, which is $907 a month, according to the National Center for Health in Public Housing.

Growing concerns about housing have raised a question about the future of financial assistance and the residents who benefit from it. Recently, HUD Secretary Ben Carson embarked on a listening tour and made several stops in the Metroplex to hear directly from the community about the housing issue.

“One thing I noticed here is that the people take pride in their community,” he said during his stop in Jubilee Park and Community Center Corporation March 31.

At the beginning of the year, Carson announced that he would start his tour in order to prepare himself for his new secretary role.

“It [the tour] is about hearing the concerns from people around the country that are stakeholders, developers, residents, site managers and everyone else who is involved in the housing process,” said Raphael Williams, Carson’s press secretary.

The tour launched in March in his hometown of Detroit. Later that month, Carson made multiple stops in the Metroplex from the Stop Six neighborhood in Fort Worth to Jubilee Park in South Dallas.

In Jubilee Park, Carson met with Mayor Mike Rawlings, local residents and several media outlets to learn about the challenges developers face with housing and how to improve various public housing facilities.

During his stop, the housing secretary was asked about his past comments regarding governmental assistance where he suggested that the government “warehouses” the poor and people should “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” instead of using welfare assistance.

Of the 23 percent of Blacks in Dallas, 30 percent are below the poverty line, and 48,375 of Dallas residents depend on public housing or housing choice vouchers, according to NCHPH and U.S. HUD statistic reports. The removal or reduction of financial assistance would negatively impact the community and result in adverse outcomes.

“What we have to do is concentrate not on maintaining people but on developing people,” he said as he explained his comments. “We have to use all the resources like working across silos and working with the Education Department, Labor Department, and Transportation Department and not just look at one little thing but look at this as a holistic approach because every single human being is human capital to be developed. If you develop them, they become a part of the engine, and if you don’t, it becomes a part of the load. So, we’re not doing anybody any favors when we don’t do everything we can to develop them.”

Before he left the city, Carson expressed his excitement for the area and his future collaborations with local housing agencies.

“It was wonderful,” he said. “I’m very thrilled to see the amount of cooperation there is between the private and public sector.”

So far, the tour has given Carson new ideas for housing and taught him significantly about the housing crisis from a development standpoint.

“He’s been hearing a lot, especially when it comes to regulations that get in the way, getting projects off the ground and running and learning about how we can develop cities holistically,” Williams said. “We really are developing human capital. We have to make sure that when we are working that we are doing it in a holistic manner and help people succeed in life.”

The tour will continue for a few more months, with future dates and cities yet to be announced.