January 12, 2017
Statement on the Hearing and Testimony of Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary-Designate for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The fair housing community is more hopeful today about HUD’s continued support of fair housing after hearing the testimony of Dr. Ben Carson before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Prior to today’s testimony, Dr. Carson had expressed views that seemed to disparage the disparate impact doctrine and the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision of the Fair Housing Act, two fundamental elements of fair housing law. Those views left many wondering if he would be willing to fully enforce the Fair Housing Act.
However, during today’s hearing, in response to questions posed to him by Senators Sherrod Brown, Robert Menendez, Jon Tester, Brian Schatz, Catherine Cortez Masto, and others, Dr. Carson stated over and again that he would enforce HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, take a holistic approach to tackling America’s housing challenges, support rental assistance programs, and advance fair housing goals. If his nomination is approved, the fair housing community will hold Dr. Carson to these promises.
During her questioning of Dr. Carson, Senator Cortez Masto–acknowledging that the U.S. has a long and welldocumented history of patterns and policies of segregation and housing discrimination, particularly based on race and national origin—asked Dr. Carson if he would “aggressively enforce the FHA which is dedicated to ensuring access to our country’s housing…free of discrimination including expeditiously and thoroughly investigating race and national origin complaints, ensuring fair mortgage lending for homeowners, and carrying out strategies to end homelessness.” In response, Dr. Carson stated that he felt that the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation which we’ve had.” He went on to say that he would work with local HUD officials and local community stakeholders in aggressively enforcing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule to “make sure that fairness is carried out.” To see this exchange, click here. We are also heartened by Dr. Carson’s commitment to protect the LGBTQ community from housing discrimination.
We particularly welcomed Dr. Carson’s statements about addressing practices that lead to housing blight. The National Fair Housing Alliance and 20 of its member fair housing organizations have filed HUD administrative complaints and one federal lawsuit charging banks, servicers, investors and field service vendors with failure to adequately maintain and manage foreclosed properties in communities of color. The data supporting these complaints and lawsuit shows a stark pattern of discriminatory treatment which has contributed to the blighted conditions of many of these properties.
The National Fair Housing Alliance and the fair housing community will work with Dr. Carson, if his nomination is approved, to ensure that the purpose of the Fair Housing Act is fulfilled throughout the nation.
Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Through comprehensive education, advocacy, and enforcement programs, NFHA provides equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans, and insurance policies for all residents in the nation.