The Trump administration appears to be dedicated to making life harder for Americans at every level, no matter how petty. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon with no experience in housing or development, recently visited some government-sponsored housing units in Ohio and was “plainly happy” that the units lacked comfortable amenities.
When touring a relatively well-appointed apartment complex for veterans, he complained that they lacked “only pool tables” – as if homeless veterans don’t deserve to be housed in comfortable and well-equipped complexes.
The United States HUD spent $60 million on homeless veteran housing last year, which is less money than Donald Trump spent when he sent 59 Tomahawk missiles to destroy a Syrian airfield that was back up the next day.
Carson also visited a homeless shelter, where he was happy to see stacked bunk beds but no televisions because he didn’t want them to get “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me.'”
When visiting a shelter for heroin addicts in Lancaster, Ohio, director Trisha Farmer requested more help from the government to help pay for treatment. Carson again replied, “’We are talking about incentivizing those who help themselves’ before asking minutes later about how comfortable the facility was letting people get.”
Of course, he didn’t bother to ask the people who actually run the facilities
Bela Koe-Krompecher, clinical director at a YMCA, was not consulted on her opinions as Carson did his walk-through of housing for the homeless. “It’s so choreographed. I was kind of told, ‘Be quiet, Bela.’ But I think people need to have that blunt conversation” she said.
His remarks indicate a deplorable inability or a stubborn refusal to humanize America’s homeless, to deny them the dignity that they deserve as human beings. Studies have shown that the easiest – and cheapest – way to deal with homelessness is to just give people.
But Carson and Republicans, obsessed with this survival of the fittest, makers-and-takers Ayn Randian worldview that rewards some people and punishes others for drawing poorly in the arbitrary lottery of birth, would rather find ways to slice programs out of the budget than to actually spend our tax dollars to help the most vulnerable in our society.
“If he got something to do with Trump, that means he’s not really for us. It’s not surprising. That’s what the rich do, they make it hard for the poor” said chronic homeless housing resident Antoine Williams.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Featured image credit to Ty Wright of the New York Times