Ben Carson is Donald Trump's pick to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The president-elect made the announcement Monday morning, praising the retired neurosurgeon's "brilliant mind," reports Politico. "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities," said Trump. Carson, 65, has never held public office, but he has said his own experience growing up in poverty in Detroit would give him insight into this role. In his previous public comments on federal housing, he has criticized the Obama administration's efforts as "social engineering," notes the New York Times. In particular, he wrote an op-ed last year criticizing an anti-segregration rule and comparing it unfavorably to federal busing.
"I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration," said Carson, who became one of Trump's most prominent backers after dropping out of the GOP primary race. In the role at HUD, Carson "will be enlisted to serve as Trump's unofficial envoy to African-Americans," says the Washington Post, even though, as with the 2015 op-ed, he appears to hold positions at odds with groups such as the NAACP. While some critics wonder why someone with a background in health would be a fit for public housing, an analysis at the Atlantic takes note of a growing consensus that housing is, in fact, a public health issue, especially in terms of children. (Trump is doubling down on his criticism of China after his Taiwan phone call.)