The possibility that President-elect Trump might name Dr. Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is alarming on many fronts. It may be nothing more than a trial balloon… or not.
The notion that he would name someone who has no background HUD programs or areas of responsibility and who has declared himself unqualified to head a federal agency is an insult to the people and communities and people that HUD serves.
More important, it suggests Carson as a placeholder as Trump may well attempt to weaken or even dismantle HUD, at least as we have known it. HUD is imperfect, to be sure, and everyone involved in community development or federal policy knows it. Will Trump attempt to “make housing and urban development ‘great again'” by dismantling HUD? Will there be an effort to consolidate agencies, as President George W. Bush sought to do with anti-poverty, economic development, and community development programs at the start of his second term?
The opportunity to make things better in federal governance comes up every four years. This possibility–of Dr. Carson leading HUD–should not make anyone hopeful about community development during the Trump Administration.