Hartford Memorial Baptist Church and Presbyterian Village of Michigan, two notable organizations joined together to build the first upscale senior living community in the city of Detroit. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Dr. Benjamin Carson attended the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Thursday, March 16, at Hartford Village. (Photo by HB Meeks/Tell Us Detroit)

  HUD Secretary 'Listening Tour' road show launches in Detroit

By Karen Hudson Samuels/Tell Us Detroit

DETROIT (Tell Us Det) - U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson launched a national 7 city listening tour by spending three days in Detroit, his hometown.

The HUD Secretary’s first stop in the city was Wednesday afternoon at the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine in Detroit.

Parents, students and staff of the school listened attentively as Carson delivered a personal narrative of his life and answered questions from students about housing; the media was not able to make inquires.

The HUD Secretary recounted growing up in a 750 square house on Deacon Street in Southwest Detroit, the son of a single Mother and how proud the family was in carrying for their small home. Carson would later fuse that experience of pride in home ownership when acknowledging a need to rehab what he called “rundown uninhabitable housing”.

“How we keep them from getting back in bad condition, gets back to ownership.” Carson said there is a need to “Create a mechanism whereby the individuals in those units develop progressive ownership, so they begin to take care of it in a proper way and we can do that in ways that does not increase our costs. We have to start thinking about root causes of problems and dealing with them beyond a patchwork approach.”

Personal accountability was a recurring theme. Carson said housing is part of the nation’s infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt with a responsible mindset. The refrain came up again in response to a student who asked, “How will low income households have quality housing?”

Carson replied by using the analogy of a family shopping for groceries and facing a choice between buying a sirloin steak or hamburger on a limited budget. “It’s okay to have hamburger, you don’t always need sirloin steak, maybe now and then, not all the time. And if think about it that way and you take advantage of the other things in your environment, maybe you can get to the point where you can have sirloin steak.”

On the question of “How will you improve on the housing government provided now?” Carson responded that a “Big picture” is needed by government agencies working together across silos.

He said that means HUD working with the Departments of Labor, Education, Justice, Transportation, and EPA to develop overall programs that develop all of our people. Gathering information and collecting insights from stakeholders is the goal of listening tours.

Carson’s three-day visit to his hometown also took him to a restaurant on 7 Mile in northwest Detroit to where he met with local and regional HUD officials at Louisiana Creole Gumbo. Restaurant owner Joe Spencer said Carson, who is a vegetarian, enjoyed one of the restaurant’s vegetarian dishes. Spencer said Mayor Mike Duggan approached him about the HUD Secretary making stop at the restaurant as part the listening tour.

The remaining cities on Caron’s tour were not known when Tell Us Detroit went to press.











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