Press Releases

In Letter to Carson, CBC Criticizes Proposed Change to HUD’s Mission Statement

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Washington, March 9, 2018 | comments

In a letter sent yesterday to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) criticized a proposed change to HUD’s mission statement that would remove anti-discrimination language about the need to create “inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.”

The CBC wrote, “As a direct result of institutional, systemic racism, the African-American community continues to face discrimination when buying or renting homes. Even today, black families continue to face structural barriers in finding affordable homes in safe neighborhoods and in getting mortgages approved. This is why HUD changing its mission statement is so disconcerting.”

The letter was sent in response to recent reports about an internal HUD memo being circulated at the Department that proposes to reduce the current mission statement to one sentence: “HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.” While Secretary Carson asserted this morning that these reports are false, the CBC remains concerned about HUD’s commitment to protecting the right of all people to secure housing free from discrimination.

In the letter, the CBC requested that Secretary Carson share an unredacted copy of the memo, along with a full explanation as to why the Department is proposing the change.

The CBC wrote, “As the Conscience of the Congress, we demand a full, written explanation for this sudden change in HUD’s mission. Many of us still recall the days when our families were turned away from homes due to the color of our skin. We refuse to turn back the clock on fair and affordable housing policies. In the last decade, we have been pleased to see HUD champion more inclusive communities. A change from that path would be terribly detrimental.”

In addition to CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02), the letter was signed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY-05), Congressman Al Green (D-TX-09), Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03) and Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA-02).

Full text of the letter is attached, online, and below.

March 8, 2018

The Honorable Ben Carson
Secretary
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410

Dear Secretary Carson:

As members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), we write in response to media reports that you are dramatically changing the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) mission statement to remove anti-discrimination language which has reflected HUD’s goal of supporting “inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.” We would strongly oppose this change, and request that you share an unredacted copy of the memo proposing this change, along with a full explanation as to why you seek to make these changes.

On March 6, 2018, the Huffington Post reported that an internal memo was circulated by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Amy Thompson on March 5th, which would strip the current mission to one sentence, “HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.”

We are deeply concerned that this new statement strips out language expressing HUD’s commitment and mission to “build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination,” which is an important part of HUD’s current mission statement.

As a direct result of institutional, systemic racism, the African-American community continues to face discrimination when buying or renting homes. Even today, black families continue to face structural barriers in finding affordable homes in safe neighborhoods and in getting mortgages approved. This is why HUD changing its mission statement is so disconcerting.

As the Conscience of the Congress, we demand a full, written explanation for this sudden change in HUD’s mission. Many of us still recall the days when our families were turned away from homes due to the color of our skin. We refuse to turn back the clock on fair and affordable housing policies. In the last decade, we have been pleased to see HUD champion more inclusive communities. A change from that path would be terribly detrimental.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. We look forward to your expedient response.

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