Ben Carson compares Baltimore's problems to having cancer

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson's remarks during San Francisco visit spark backlash Democrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition Senior HUD official reprimanded for making political statements on the job MORE on Wednesday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE’s characterization of Baltimore, comparing the city's problems to cancer.

"There are problems in Baltimore, and you can’t sweep them under the rug,” Carson said during a visit to the city outside of Hollins House, a federally funded housing complex for senior citizens, The Washington Post reported.

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“It’s sort of like a patient who has cancer: you can dress them up and put a nice suit on and try to ignore it, but that cancer is going to have a devastating effect,” he added, according to the Post.

Carson, who spent three decades at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, where he served as director of pediatric neurosurgery, weighed in following days of controversy over Trump's tweets going after Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFederal agency to resume processing some deferred-action requests for migrants Overnight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Top Oversight Democrat demands immigration brass testify MORE (D-Md.) and the Baltimore-area district he represents.

The Trump administration official said that the city has made great strides since the 1970s due to investments like the development of the Inner Harbor, and said he has spoken to Trump about what can be done to improve the city.

Carson's visit comes in the wake of ongoing controversy over Trump’s characterization of the city as a “rodent and rat infested mess” where “no human being would want to live” as part of attacks on Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Those denouncing Trump’s remarks have blasted his characterization as part of a broader pattern of attacks on minority lawmakers and other critics that have invoked rhetoric about "infestation" and targeted the critics' places of origin.

The president sparked a political firestorm earlier this month when he tweeted that four progressive congresswomen who have lambasted him should "go back" where they came from, with the Democratic-led House later voting to condemn his remark as racist.

While Carson on Wednesday pushed back on the characterization of Trump’s comments as racist, a resident of Hollins House told the Post that they found Trump’s remarks to be racist, “because he knows black people live here.”

“I live here. I don’t have trash; I have a clean place,” the woman, who declined to give her name, told the newspaper.

Wednesday's event was initially slated to be held in an open lot belonging to the Morning Star Baptist Church, but the event was moved after a member said it was organized without the church’s permission, the Post reported.

Carson called the rebuff an illustration of “animosity” that prevents solutions to the city’s problems.

“It’s so important that we’re willing to talk and to work together,” Carson said, according to the Post. “A church said to ‘get off of our property’ — a church — when we’re talking about helping people.”

Cummings’s office told The Washington Examiner that the Oversight chairman was invited to join Carson but declined due to a scheduling conflict.