HUD Secretary Carson: Property Rights Foundational to Country’s Success

May 2, 2017

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson discussed the importance of homeownership and how it creates prosperous communities during ALTA’s Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. 

Talking to nearly 250 title professionals, Carson provided an inspirational keynote about the need to help create an environment where people have affordable, safe housing. He’s been touring the country listening to what works and doesn’t work with the country’s housing.

“We can learn from observing what works and what doesn’t work,” Carson said. “How many times did Edison fail at inventing the light bulb? Do you know how the cleaner Formula 409 got its name?”

Carson’s point was that success is built on failure, encouraging attendees to continue striving to be better.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, Carson said that society has an obligation to provide affordable housing for those planning to retire.

Carson said HUD want to take a holistic approach to developing communities and work with various agencies to eliminate redundancies and also remove the tremendous regulatory burden.

“One of the things governors and city leaders have told me is that they all love HUD programs but say that the “amount of regulatory garbage that we have to contend with is almost not worthwhile,’” Carson said.

Turning to property rights, Carson shared that the country’s housing crisis stirred childhood memories when his family lost their 750-square-foot home when his parents divorced.

“We spent the next six years hoping to get back to that place and were bouncing around experiencing housing insecurity,” Carson said. “We eventually got back to that place and having housing stability, which I believe has led to my success today.”

Carson also acknowledged the importance of property rights and how clarifying ownership helps support the industry’s economy.

“Governments that look out for property rights also tend to look out for other matters—freedom of religion and speech. It is absolutely foundational to our success,” Carson said.

The HUD secretary shared an idea the department is considering to help promote homeownership. He said every month subsidies help apartment owners offer reduced rents to low-income tenants. Carson suggested putting a small amount of this money into a savings account that can be used for maintenance of the unit.

“If the door is scratched up or if the screen has holes, it comes out of that money,” Carson said. “All of a sudden people will start taking care of things because they have access to that money.”

Carson said that if they leave public housing within five or 10 years they would that money for a down payment on a home.

“Think about how that would change the way they think about things,” Carson said. “If you feel ownership of something, you take care of it a lot more. If you drive a car around and it’s not your car, you’re not going to wash that car. It changes the mindset."

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