By Guillermo Mayer, President & CEO of Public Advocates

I wasn’t prepared last week when I found myself nodding in agreement with the new Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, Ben Carson.  

Secretary Carson had been visiting Detroit for the first stop on a national listening tour. He had stopped for lunch at Louisiana Creole Gumbo, a beloved and thriving local eatery now with several locations in Detroit. The restaurant was able to expand and train staff in part because of support from Motor City Match, an organization that is helping to drive the entrepreneurial boom in Detroit. The organization acts as a matchmaker between startups and expanding businesses like Louisiana Creole Gumbo, and enables them to find retail space, or to make crucial investments like key staff hires and training.

After sampling some delicious food, Secretary Carson tweeted:

I could certainly agree with that.

Then I took a look at Trump’s budget outline for HUD and learned that it would eliminate the very program that funds Motor City Match! That’s right. Trump is proposing to eliminate all funding for the Community Development Block Grant program (roughly $3 billion), which helps to fund Motor City Match. In fact, Michigan alone would lose over $100 million next year, a substantial portion of which would benefit Detroit.


Was Secretary Carson even aware of the proposed budget for his own agency when he made these remarks? Or worse, was he tweeting the right thing with one hand after using his other to sign off on cruel cuts to the very program he later praised?


According to a report by the Washington Examiner, Carson stated the following week that he “was not surprised that the Trump White House proposed to cut funding for his department by more than 13 percent and agreed with the premise that domestic spending programs had to be cut to spend more on the military.”


The irony of course is that Donald Trump campaigned on helping to revitalize communities like Detroit and bring back jobs. But his budget outline announced last week accomplishes just the opposite by gutting program after program with proven track records of sparking private investment and creating jobs.


Shame on Secretary Carson for being complicit in Trump’s budget cuts. It took him only a few weeks after being confirmed to renege on his promise to the Senate that he would protect HUD programs and fight for communities. He is doing the opposite, and small businesses like Louisiana Creole Gumbo will be among the losers as a result.

Join our effort at CarsonWatch. Together we’ll make sure that next time Secretary Carson praises a local success story he’s prepared to put his money where his mouth is.


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