Secretary Ben Carson is changing the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) mission statement and omitting words that would ensure the organization remains inclusive and discrimination free.

Carson tweaked the mission statement of the agency to read:

“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.”

Previously, the mission statement, read:

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business”

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In a March 5 memo to staff, Amy Thompson, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, said the change was “an effort to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration,” as was first reported by HuffPost.

Watered down version

Opponents say by making the change, Carson is watering down the agency’s mission.

“By removing the anti-discrimination language from HUD’s mission statement, Secretary Carson is sending a message to the country that he does not take discrimination in the housing market seriously,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), in a statement to Newsweek.

“This latest in a series of moves by Secretary Carson to deemphasize HUD’s role in creating inclusive communities is unfortunate–thankfully, the law trumps a mission statement, so those legal obligations remain,” she added.

Big spender

Carson has been in the hot seat for the past few weeks after news broke that he ordered $31,000 worth of new furniture for his office at HUD headquarters. Carson cancelled the order only after being questioned by a congressional oversight committee. Federal law states that that no more than $5,000 can be spent on redecorating an agency head’s office. It also has to be reported to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. 

This move is a slap in the face to the many economically disadvantaged people that HUD supports. Removing critical wording that ensures a strategic effort to eliminate discriminatory practcies is also hurtful, particulalry in light of lawsuits that were lodged against Trump properties where Blacks claim that were denied the right to rent based on race.

New York Magazine recently reported that under Carson, HUD has pulled projects meant to help those in the LGBTQ community, which included online training materials for homeless shelters to ensure equal access for transgender people.