In Letter to Carson, CBC Criticizes Proposed Change to HUD’s Mission Statement

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and her colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) sent a letter to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, criticizing a proposed change to HUD’s mission statement that would remove anti-discrimination language about the need to create “inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.”

The letter states, “As a direct result of institutional, systemic racism, the African-American community continues to face discrimination when buying or renting homes. Even today, black families continue to face structural barriers in finding affordable homes in safe neighborhoods and in getting mortgages approved. This is why HUD changing its mission statement is so disconcerting.”

The letter was sent in response to recent reports about an internal HUD memo being circulated at the Department that proposes to reduce the current mission statement to one sentence: “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.”

In the letter, Congresswoman Lee and the CBC requested that Secretary Carson share an unredacted copy of the memo, along with a full explanation as to why the Department is proposing the change.

The letter further explained, “As the Conscience of the Congress, we demand a full, written explanation for this sudden change in HUD’s mission. Many of us still recall the days when our families were turned away from homes due to the color of our skin. We refuse to turn back the clock on fair and affordable housing policies. In the last decade, we have been pleased to see HUD champion more inclusive communities. A change from that path would be terribly detrimental.”

In addition to Congresswoman Lee, the letter was signed by CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Congressman Al Green (TX-09), Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) and Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-02). Full text of the letter is here.

While Secretary Carson asserts these reports of straying from a policy of inclusion are false, Congresswoman Lee and the CBC remain concerned about HUD’s commitment to protecting the right of all people to secure housing free from discrimination. See reports of his clarification here.