(Washington, DC), On behalf of the 500 African American mayors across the country, Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO and President of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA), released the following statement in response to Ben Carson’s nomination to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
“My colleagues and I at AAMA look forward to learning about Dr. Carson’s plans to ensure that every American is afforded a decent place to live. His past statements criticizing government safety net programs, including the housing programs that serve the most vulnerable in this country, have troubled us. However, we are ready and willing to share our experience as leaders at the front lines of revitalizing local communities.
HUD is an important partner in community development in cities across the country and a vital driver of housing opportunities. We are hopeful that Dr. Carson will not only continue the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) Program, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, but will also call for an increase in funding for these essential programs. We also request the continuation of the Choice program so that more cities can benefit, just as Kansas City has benefitted, from the place making and improvements to public housing that this program affords. We would also like to see the continuation of the Continuum of Care Program, which is a major funding source for the homeless, as well as federal low income housing tax credits, which are a major source of funding for affordable housing. Historically, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) backed mortgages have been vital to allowing middle income persons to purchase a home, just as rental vouchers have been vital for low income people to be able to afford to live in opportunity areas. We hope that these programs will also continue.
Finally, we look forward to collaboration across federal agencies as well as federal-state coordination and cooperation, so that our communities will see increased weatherization of facilities and other improvements that require a multifaceted approach. We are hopeful that Dr. Carson will choose to prioritize the aforementioned programs, while also leading HUD fairly and effectively, to foster a vibrant 21st century for American cities.”