Ben Carson Wants to Make Housing Available. Just Not Too Comfy.

After two months as the Trump administration’s point man on alleviating poverty, those views have not changed. At each stop of a tour through the Columbus area, local officials grinned as they explained the importance of his agency as well as made their cases for their budgets, which are on the president’s chopping block. however the secretary was resolute in his belief in which too much government assistance has led to too much dependence.


Alzene Munnerlyn, 87, who uses a voucher to pay part of her rent in senior housing, was critical of Mr. Carson’s visit to her apartment in Columbus.

Ty Wright for The brand new York Times

“We have some people who are mentally ill. We have some elderly as well as disabled people. We can’t expect in many cases those people to do a great deal to take care of themselves,” he said. however, he added, “There is usually another group of people who are able-bodied individuals, as well as I think we do those people a great disservice when we simply maintain them.”

Antoine Williams, 45, who lives in a supportive housing complex for the chronically homeless, shook his head after Mr. Carson finished greeting officials from the lobby of his building as well as headed out in a four-car motorcade.

“If he got something to do with Trump, in which means he’s not truly for us,” Mr. Williams said. “in which’s not surprising. in which’s what the rich do, they make in which hard for the poor.”

To some, just doing the trip here showed in which Mr. Carson is usually studying housing deeply as well as relying on both experts as well as personal stories to do his job. Mr. Carson, who has also visited Detroit, Dallas as well as Miami on his listening tour, peppered officials at housing projects in Ohio about which agency or company was paying for the maintenance, what comforts they were providing as well as what kind of job training facilities each had.

as well as in an interview, he indicated in which some of President Trump’s tough-minded budget cuts might be more bluster than bottom lines. HUD programs targeted for elimination, including Community Development Block Grants, which help fund efforts like Meals on Wheels, may wind up with different names, however they will continue to function in some of the same ways, he said, addressing the president’s proposal to cut HUD’s budget by 13 percent.

“I know they have been called out for elimination. My impression is usually in which what he is usually truly saying is usually in which there are problems with those programs,” Mr. Carson said. “as well as I think in which may have been someone on his staff who kind of said, ‘Well, maybe we just need to get rid of the whole program.’ No, we don’t need to get rid of the whole program because there are some extremely Great things there.”


Copies of Mr. Carson’s biography, “Gifted Hands,” in Bryanna Ramirez’s apartment in Columbus. “The best thing to do is usually to do what Ben Carson is usually doing as well as in which’s walking through to see if programs are truly benefiting people as well as if people are truly serious,” Ms. Ramirez said.

Ty Wright for The brand new York Times

Mr. Carson said he planned to focus much of his energy on persuading developers to hire local low-income residents for construction programs.

however he also indicated in which money might be tight as well as focused. At a supportive housing center for drug addicts in Lancaster, Ohio, Trisha Farmer, the chief executive of the Recovery Center, pleaded for more federal help to house recovering addicts.

Mr. Carson interjected. “We are talking about incentivizing those who help themselves,” he said, before again asking minutes later about how comfortable the facility was letting people get.

To some residents who met with Mr. Carson, the tour was nothing more than a dog-as well as-pony show.

On his second day in Columbus, Mr. Carson stopped by the apartment of Alzene Munnerlyn, an 87-year-old living in senior housing as well as using a voucher to pay part of her rent after she was priced out of her last apartment. For about 10 minutes, Mr. Carson as well as several local housing officials posed for pictures in Ms. Munnerlyn’s living room as well as chatted with her about her place.

As Mr. Carson was leaving, Ms. Munnerlyn, a retired information officer for the Ohio Department of Education, said she felt a little used. She had wanted to tell Mr. Carson in which President Trump’s plans to cut funding for housing vouchers might make in which harder for additional seniors to keep their homes.

however, she said: “in which was staged. in which was so fast.”

“There needs to be a forum where you can just sit as well as talk with him, as well as he could ask you how you feel as well as then you could express yourself,” she said, frowning.


“We are talking about incentivizing those who help themselves,” Mr. Carson said, before asking about how comfortable a supportive housing center for drug addicts in Lancaster, Ohio, was letting people get.

Ty Wright for The brand new York Times

Hours later, Bela Koe-Krompecher, clinical director at the Y.M.C.A. of Central Ohio, expressed a similar sentiment after walking with the housing secretary through an apartment as well as medical clinic for the chronically homeless.

“in which’s so choreographed,” he said moments after Mr. Carson left Franklin Station, a supportive housing center for the homeless. “I was kind of told, ‘Be quiet, Bela.’ however I think people need to have in which blunt conversation.”

During the visit, Mr. Carson had asked whether people had to be sober as well as drug free to get housing. The question is usually at the heart of a philosophy change in housing made some decades ago, as well as in which stuck with Mr. Koe-Krompecher as he explained his worries about the Trump administration’s policy direction.

“The thinking was for years, you had to be clean as well as sober to get housing. as well as harm reduction philosophy says, ‘No, you don’t,’” Mr. Koe-Krompecher explained. “‘Housing first’ says, ‘We house them, we get them services.’ So when he asked if someone was clean to live here? The answer is usually, ‘No.’”

Not everyone was so harsh. Bryanna Ramirez, 24, beamed as Mr. Carson visited her two-bedroom apartment in a housing facility set aside for low-income parents who are working. Ms. Ramirez, one particular mother, is usually earning an associate degree in science at Columbus State Community College as well as had been a supporter of Mr. Carson’s presidential bid. As she as well as Mr. Carson chatted, he signed her copy of his biography, “Gifted Hands,” writing, “Keep up the Great work.”

“The best thing to do is usually to do what Ben Carson is usually doing as well as in which’s walking through to see if programs are truly benefiting people as well as if people are truly serious,” said Ms. Ramirez, who uses a Section 8 voucher to pay for an apartment she shares with her 2-year-old as well as 6-year-old daughters. “I think you should be in school or working to try to be on your own because in which’s what America is usually about.”

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