On Thursday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson fired back against accusations that proposed changes to the HUD mission statement represented a rolling back of the agency's commitment to fair housing practices.
Carson was responding to reports earlier in the week that HUD was considering removing the words "free from discrimination" from its official mission statement. Various outlets reported that the proposed new mission statement's wording would read, "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."
HUD's current mission statement reads, "HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.”
HUD and Secretary Carson came under fire from accusations that the altered wording indicated a diminished commitment to ensuring fair housing practices and preventing discrimination. However, Secretary Carson took a firm stance in his official response, Thursday, releasing an open letter to HUD employees that pushed back against the claims that he was charting a different course for the agency.
"It’s not enough that I merely assert these news reports are patently false," read Carson's statement. "It’s necessary that I personally address them and reassure you, the HUD family, that nothing could be further from the truth."
Secretary Carson continued, explaining that "The Department’s mission statement has changed from time to time to capture the dynamic nature of our work. It changed in 2003 and again in 2010. Now, in 2018, we are considering another change to our mission statement and are seeking comments and ideas from our senior staff. But the notion that any new mission statement would reflect a lack of commitment to fair housing is nonsense."
Citing the upcoming 50th anniversary of President Johnson signing the Fair Housing Act into law, Secretary Carson expressed a continuing commitment to the law's focus and purpose. Secretary Carson said, "The ideals of that law, and our continuing work to support them, are really quite simple—fair is fair."