The nomination of Dr. Ben Carson as the next U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) doesn’t have strong support among Black members of the U.S. Congress or civil rights organizations.

President-elect Trump nominated Dr. Ben Carson for HUD Secretary, a move t many in the Black community feel is wrong. (Courtesy photo

President-elect Trump nominated Dr. Ben Carson for HUD Secretary, a move t many in the Black community feel is wrong. (Courtesy photo)

On Dec. 5, President-elect Donald Trump announced Carson as his pick to run HUD, saying, “Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.” U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone Black Republican in his chamber, supported Trump’s move by saying, “If you can get a brain surgeon that wants to run housing, that’s a good idea.”

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the newly elected chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus who will officially assume his duties in early January 2017, said picking Carson to run HUD wasn’t a wise move. “Access to affordable housing is one of the most basic building blocks of the American Dream,” Richmond tweeted on Dec. 5. “HUD plays a crucial role in expanding access. Not only is Ben Carson unqualified to run HUD, his ideas around fair housing are destructive to communities around the country.

“In an administration led by a known housing discriminator, HUD is more important than ever. Ben Carson is an unacceptable choice.”

While Richmond has voiced his concerns, the CBC hasn’t voted to oppose the Carson nomination at this time. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen.-elect Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who will vote on Carson’s confirmation, haven’t expressed an opinion on the matter yet.

Carson is Trump’s first high profile Black selection to his Cabinet. Trump and Carson ran against each other for the Republican Party presidential nomination earlier this year and when Carson withdrew from the race he immediately endorsed Trump. Even so, Trump’s offer is not the first time Carson has been approached by U.S. presidents for high-level government positions.

Both President George W. Bush and President Obama offered Carson the position of U.S. Surgeon General. He declined both offers and later parted with Obama at a National Prayer Breakfast speech on Feb. 7, 2013, criticizing the president’s health care policies.

Baltimore City Council member John Bullock (D-District 9) told the {AFRO} that he was surprised that Carson was selected to lead HUD. “He made it clear that he didn’t have the type of experience needed to run a government agency a few weeks ago,” Bullock said. “He doesn’t have a track record on housing and therefore he is unqualified for the job.”

Bullock said Trump’s selection of Carson because he allegedly lived in public housing during his youth is “racially insensitive.” Besides, Bullock said, Carson would be better suited for surgeon general or secretary of Health and Human Services because of his professional background.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is troubled by the Carson nomination, echoing Bullock’s sentiments. “During his time in Baltimore, Dr. Ben Carson was a phenomenal neurosurgeon but he has no experience developing housing policy affecting tens of millions of households or running a complex federal agency, as his own spokesman admitted last month,” Cummings said. “Mr. Trump said during the campaign he would support working-class Americans but his appointments made it clear he intends nothing of the sort.”

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said on Dec. 6 that Carson’s nomination is “baffling and troubling to the civil and human rights community.”

“He is on record for opposing recent housing desegregation efforts under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, one of the nation’s most important civil rights laws,” Henderson said. “The failure to ensure Fair Housing Act compliance was a major contributing factor to the 2008 housing crisis, and we are concerned that Dr. Carson will attempt to roll back, or allow Congress to roll back with even more lasting consequences, the important progress that has been made in recent years. We urge President-elect Trump to reconsider this nomination and to select a nominee who is dedicated to promoting fair, affordable, and sustainable housing free from discrimination.”

If confirmed, Carson would be the third Black Republican to be secretary of HUD after Samuel Pierce during the Reagan administration and Alphonso Jackson serving under George W. Bush. The first secretary to lead HUD was Robert Weaver, a Black man appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and served from 1966-1968.