Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is concerned that the department he has lead for the last two and a half years will be “going backwards” under the leadership of his presumed successor, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Castro said as much in an interview with NPR published on Monday, expressing apprehension that Carson might roll back home HUD initiatives, including one rule intended to prompt local communities into compliance with the Fair Housing Act.
“I’d be lying if I said that I’m not concerned about the possibility of going backward, over the next four years,” said Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio whose twin brother Joaquin is a member of Congress. But Castro also expressed optimism that Carson, a former presidential candidate who became a prominent supporter of President-elect Donald Trump after dropping out of the GOP primary, might develop an appreciation for the department once he takes control of it.
From almost the moment Trump was elected president last year, Carson’s name was floated as a loyalist likely to be given a cabinet post. The retired neurosurgeon initially said, via a spokesman, that he did not feel prepared to run a federal agency but later relented and accepted the position as HUD secretary. He has cited his poor upbringing and his work treating inner-city patients as qualifications for his new position.
That Carson has no experience working in housing was enough for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to label him “disturbingly unqualified” to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But speaking to NPR, Castro left open the possibility that Carson could be a success at HUD, noting that “the president-elect has talked about investment in infrastructure, investment in other things. And so, it’s possible that we’re in for a surprise.”
Castro said he has spoken to Carson, but that the two focused on ensuring a smooth transition and did not discuss specifics. Castro told NPR that he does not intend to stay in Washington to see Trump get inaugurated and will instead board a plane the morning of inauguration day and return to San Antonio.