Ben Carson accepted Donald Trump’s offer to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a statement from the president-elect’s transition office Monday.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Republican presidential nomination before backing Trump, is the first of what is expected to be several Cabinet nominee announcements this week.
The announcement caps what was apparently a lengthy consideration process for Carson. He said Nov. 22 on Fox News that the job was “one of the offers that’s on the table,” and that he’d think and pray about the matter over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Carson “has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Trump said in the statement, which cited Carson’s upbringing in Detroit as well as his medical career. “We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities.”
After this year’s bitter nomination contest, Trump also said, “He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
Carson, 65, said in the statement he feels he “can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”
The nomination of Carson, who has never held elected office, will require confirmation by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate after Trump takes office in January.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development could play an important role in Trump’s administration, after the Republican repeatedly pledged in his campaign to address problems plaguing inner-city minority communities. Most of the agency’s annual budget of over $37 billion goes to rental and homeless assistance programs across the country.
Policy changes at the agency could have ripple effects across the housing market. Carson could, for instance, roll back Obama administration initiatives that mandated a tenant’s criminal history not be a factor in housing, or put new restrictions on how long the federal government offers housing assistance. The department’s block-grant programs to underwrite construction of new housing and infrastructure could appeal to Trump, whose family fortune derives from his real estate business.
Carson would also have to grapple with the aftermath of a massive data breach discovered in September that potentially exposed the personal information of more than 425,000 public housing residents. Identifying data, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, were inadvertently made publicly available on the agency’s website.