HUD Secretary Ben Carson explains poverty is a ‘state of mind’ comment


Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson drew a lot of attention recently after he made a controversial comment that poverty is a “state of mind.” In a new interview with NPR’s Pam Fessler, Carson clarifies what he meant by the comment, explaining why he still stands by it. 

Carson told Fessler that “how a person thinks” is only one component that contributes to being poor. Instead, what he said is that it is a factor, meaning it’s partly a state of mind.

From the Secretary’s NPR Interview:

So one of the things I think government can do very well is to help create the right kinds of mindset, frame of mind, by providing ladders of opportunity so that people can really see what’s going on around them. A lot of times if you go to a disadvantaged neighborhood, you ask the kids, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” You get about five different answers. But there’s a thousand. We need to show people the other 995 and how you get there. And those are the kinds of things that create that can-do attitude that is so important, and that for such a long time was a part of the American mindset. And there are those now who want people to think that somebody else is in control of you and that you’re a victim. We want to find ways to make sure that people understand that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you, is you.

Carson’s department is currently under a lot of scrutiny since President Donald Trump released his proposal for the 2018 federal budget, which includes a $6.2 billion cut to HUD.  

Under the proposed budget, HUD’s funding would decrease about 13.2% to $40.68 billion. HUD stands behind the budget, saying the department would continue to provide rental assistance to 4.5 million households while giving a greater role to state and local governments.

And, according to the NPR article, Carson is scheduled to appear before a House appropriations subcommittee Thursday to address Trump’s budget cuts. 

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