Civil rights groups call on Carson to keep anti-discrimination language in HUD mission statement

Civil rights groups call on Carson to keep anti-discrimination language in HUD mission statement
© Cameron Lancaster

Top civil rights groups are calling on Housing Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson suggests wife made decision to purchase ,000 dining set The Hill's 12:30 Report Cost of Pruitt's Italy trip rises above ,000 MORE to preserve language in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) mission statement that promises to create “conclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”

The Huffington Post reported Tuesday that HUD would remove the language from its mission statement and would replace it with language centered on “self-sufficiency.”

“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,” the agency’s new mission statement now reads.

In a letter to Carson on Wednesday, the president of the National Urban League called the change “drastic” and warned Carson that the move “should not be made lightly.”

“Before accepting this change, you must confer with your staff in the field, and HUD stakeholders, who must live with the consequences of your actions,” the group’s president, Marc Morial, wrote in the letter.

“You have spoken of the squalid conditions of your childhood neighborhood in Boston; you have experienced first-hand the demoralizing wounds of segregation and racism, and for a time, according to your spokesman, benefitted from the safety net of housing subsidy,” he continued. “You must bring these experiences to bear in your responsibility to uphold the duties of your office.”

The Human Rights Campaign also slammed the change in a separate statement, calling it an effort to “erase LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities from key protections and language across agencies.”

“Secretary Carson has a troubling history of denying that LGBTQ people encounter discrimination, calling the fight for full equality a demand for ‘extra rights,’” HRC legal affairs director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement. “It is unconscionable that a federal agency created, in part, to fight discrimination is being led by someone who has long denied such discrimination exists.”

The new HUD mission statement was sent to the agency’s political staffers in a memo on March 5 by Amy Thompson, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, according to HuffPost.

Thompson told the staffers that the statement was being changed “in an effort to align HUD’s mission with the secretary’s priorities and that of the administration.”

The old mission statement remained on HUD’s website as of Wednesday afternoon.

“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,” it reads.