Sixth graders from Cairo Junior High School in Cairo, Illinois just called out Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, claiming that he is not “doing anything” to save public housing.
Cairo is a predominantly African American community that is mired in a public housing crisis. Per ThinkProgress:
Last week, HUD announced that 185 families [about 400 people] living in two public housing complexes would have to relocate due to concerns about mold and poor heating. This move would affect 15 percent of the city’s population. Federal housing officials said there is no plan to provide new housing to the displaced families, however.
Gabriella Lyas, one of the students from Cairo, wrote to Carson:
“The people who live there call that home and you aren’t doing anything about it.”
Another student, Latrece Brooker, discussed bug infestations, plumbing problems, and rodents in her letter to the HUD Secretary.
Both Illinois Senators, Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), have sent letters to Carson calling for “strong federal action.” Their appeal is likely to fall on deaf ears. Rather than promote the HUD’s mission to provide acceptable public housing, Carson has called for the impoverished to not “be dependent.”
“[W]hat I do want to do is create ladders of opportunity, so that people don’t have to be dependent. Government should not keep people in a dependent state. It should be used as a springboard, and not as a hammock.”
With Trump proposing a $6 billion cut to HUD’s budget, shrinking the department’s funding by 14 percent, that is a rather weak springboard from which the residents of Cairo – and others around the country who depend on HUD – can miraculously lift themselves out of poverty. This should come as no surprise, in that Carson is one of many cabinet members who are not only unqualified but also adversarial to the very agency they were hired to lead.
It is a sad state of affairs when sixth graders show more sense than the federal government. As Trump and Carson continue to show contempt for regular Americans, they are engendering an entire generation of civically engaged Americans united in their opposition to Republicans.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.