Speaking at the Ferguson Library in Connecticut, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Dr. Ben Carson said that the federal government has changed the definition of success for his Department. “The despair of any of our families in assisted housing is our business, as well as our problem to solve, and we’re moving forward to turn the situation around,” said Carson, who had a successful career as a neuro-surgeon after being raised in subsidized housing as a child in Detroit.
“At HUD, we’re no longer measuring success by how many people are in a program, who are in a housing project, but by how many graduate out of that and become independent. That’s what makes our country strong,” Carson said on Monday.
Carson added that citizens must not be indifferent to the needs of those benefiting from government programs, but they must also help their fellow Americans to become more independent. “We begin to work together, including reaching out to the insurance companies, you know, their responsibility, and we all start thinking about our responsibility. And then, you look at, you know, the people in the housing development that was so poorly managed, you know, we can’t stand around and let people live in those kinds of conditions and just turn a blind eye to it.
“You know, too often you hear (that) you should just leave things like they are, the status quo. Let tenants remain where they are, without any hope of making a successful life out of assisted housing,” Carson added. “This kind of indifference can be tempting, as it’s much easier to look away from the lives of the poor. But the late Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, who I had the privilege of meeting, Nobel Prize winner, said, ‘It is troublesome to be involved in another person’s despair. For the person who is indifferent to his or her neighbors, there’s no consequence.’
Carson went on to say, “How can you build or remain a civil society based on such indifference?”
Carson visited a home in Willington CT where he told the residents that HUD is seeking a solution to crumbling foundations, blamed on ingredients used in concrete decades ago, in their home. Accompanied by Sens. Chris Murphy (D) and Richard Blumenthal (D), Carson said that his department is committed to working with other entities to find a solution. Murphy and Blumenthal have cosponsored legislation to provide homeowners with $200 million in federal funds to make repairs.
Carson and the senators visit the home of Maggie and Vincent Perracchio and observed cracks in their home’s foundation. The deteriorating concrete causes cracks in the foundation and shifts the rest of the structure of the home. Observing the cracks, Carson asked, “Insurance doesn’t cover this?”
Insurance companies are not covering the damage resulting from the crumbling concrete foundations because it does not meet with their definition of collapse. However, Eric George of the Insurance Association of Connecticut said, according to the Hartford Courant, that member companies are “very encouraged that federal officials are getting involved.” The house Carson visited is one of as many as 34,000 homes in 36 towns in Connecticut with crumbling foundations. According to report by the state government, a mineral known as pyrrhotite that was used in the concrete aggregate is to blame. Before he left, Carson expressed optimism that a federal solution can be found.