Just as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development prepares for steep budget cuts that end popular grant programs and slash funding for subsidized housing, the department’s head, Dr. Ben Carson, told Sirius XM radio host Armstrong Williams that with “the right mindset,” those who use HUD’s services could cease to need them altogether.
Carson, HUD Secretary, sat down for an interview with Williams on Wednesday, telling the host “I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind.”
He elaborated: “You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there. And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.”
Carson told Williams that the government can provide a “helping hand” to citizens in need, but that “sustaining them in a position of poverty” was not wise.
"I think the majority of people don’t have that defeatist attitude, but they sometimes just don’t see the way, and that’s where government can come in and be very helpful," Carson said. "It can provide the ladder of opportunity. It can provide the mechanism that will demonstrate to them what can be done."
The interview comes just days after the release of President Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint, which aims to cut $6.2 billion from the HUD annual budget. Specifically, the cuts will end the Community Development Block Grant program, as well as programs that address community blight and encourage first-time homeownership. The budget also cuts $2 billion from HUD’s rental assistance program, which provides rental subsidies for more than 4 million low-income U.S. households.
“While the scale of this reduction is significant, we are prepared to meet its challenges,” Carson of the budget. “The proposed reductions are primarily from rental assistance reform and eliminating funding for programs that haven’t consistently been targeted to address need.”
Carson also said that by 2019, HUD will present a comprehensive “path for work-able families to move toward self-sufficiency.”