Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is revising his agency's mission statement so that it doesn't explicitly promise to fight discrimination.
As currently available on the department's website, the mission statement is as follows:
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.
In a memo sent to the agency's political staff earlier this week, however, the assistant secretary for public affairs explained that an updated statement will be used to "align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration," according to HuffPost. The new statement reads as follows:
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 deletions play to Carson's beliefs. Carson has long been a critic of what he has described as "government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality," including in the housing department, and argued that because of America's "history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous," according to The New York Times. He has also emphasized self-sufficiency over helping the poor in terms of his policies at HUD, telling the Times last year that compassion means not providing "a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me.’"
HUD is the latest department to radically alter its mission statement to seem less liberal. As the president and White House staff consider radically changing America's immigration laws, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services last month removed the phrase "America's promise as a nation of immigrants" from its own website.
Yet Carson is also struggling with an unrelated controversy involving his tenure at HUD. The secretary has come under fire for spending $31,000 to buy a new furniture set for his office, despite there being a $5,000 limit, according to Politico. He has also been accused of punishing an agency employee who drew attention to his activities, in a "witch hunt" against whistleblowers, according to The New York Times. In response, Carson posted on Facebook on Monday that while he had "briefly" looked at catalogs for new furniture, "I left this matter alone to concentrate on much bigger issues" and "was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered." He revealed that the order had since been cancelled.