UPDATE: After announcing that he intended to change the Department of Housing and Urban Development agency’s mission statement, Secretary Ben Carson addressed concerns that such changes would keep the agency from fighting discrimination.
In an email sent on Thursday, Carson said that the idea of removing language from the statement that would radically change how the agency functions was “nonsense.” Instead, he said, the idea is to simply update the text so that it may “capture the dynamic nature of our work.”
“The Department’s mission statement … 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,” he wrote. “But the notion that any new mission statement would reflect a lack of commitment to fair housing is nonsense.”
Adding that he actually agrees with the current statement, he said that the text is “a bit wordy.”
According to HuffPost, the mission statement isn't final, so criticism of the revisions could persuade Carson to keep the anti-discrimination language intact.
Currently, HUD holds that its 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.”
The new statement 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.”
By removing the portion that promises housing that is “free from discrimination,” the way the agency handles its business may be impacted. The fact that HUD has stopped supporting projects that would help the LGBTQ community under Carson may be an example of that.
Ben Carson has come up with a controversial preemptive strategy of curbing any objections he may encounter in the future because of his policies adversely affecting minorities.
The secretary of Housing and Urban Development is removing promises of inclusive and discrimination-free communities from the mission statement.
In a memo, addressed to HUD political staff, Amy Thompson, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, explained the statement is getting modified “in an effort to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration.”
The current mission statement which is still up on the website says, "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."
Carson has made noteworthy omissions in the updated mission statement which has reduced down to:
"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."
Thompson justified amendments to the statement by saying, “An organization’s mission is never static. A mission statement describes an organization’s purpose, what it intends to do, and whom it intends to serve. Most importantly, an organization’s activities must be embodied in its mission.”
Thompson further informed the new statement was formed based on contributions from Carson and his deputy. She also welcomed the political staff to send in their “comments or suggestions.”
Ironically, fighting discrimination is what the HUD had focused upon under President Barack Obama. Advancements on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender were prioritized by the department under the former administration.
On the contrary, Carson hasn’t been inclined towards working for equal rights since the beginning of his tenure. In fact, he has targeted the LGBTQ community by ridiculing their rights as "extra rights."
Under Carson, the HUD has pulled projects meant to help the LGBTQ community, which included online training materials for homeless shelters to ensure equal access for transgender people.
Carson has also gotten under scrutiny because his idea of “self-sufficiency” involves taking away federal assistance from low-income Americans, who, he believes, can get entitled to support from the government.
HUD is not the only federal agency revising their mission statement under the Trump administration. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director recently informed employees that it was removing the phrase “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” from its mission statement.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters