HUD May Drop Anti-Bias Wording

The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency charged with ensuring equal access to housing following generations of government-endorsed racial segregation, is considering removing the words “free from discrimination” from its mission statement.

The potential change, which caught the agency’s career staff by surprise, is part of “an effort to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration,” according to a March 5 memo sent to political staff obtained by The Huffington Post.

The proposed statement chops the current 63-word mission on HUD’s website down to 23 words — and puts an emphasis on “self-sufficiency,” a mantra that HUD Secretary Ben Carson has been touting in public appearances. The agency has confirmed the memo’s authenticity and said the new statement has not been finalized.

It reads: “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.”

Also gone are references to “inclusive communities,” consumer protections, and “quality” homes for all.

“It’s a significant symbolic shift,” said one longtime HUD employee who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation. “It’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of the kinds of changes they are making. This administration has not included career people in these decisions.”

Amy Thompson, HUD’s assistant secretary for public affairs, said in her memo that the working statement had been developed with input from Carson and others. She also asked political staff for feedback.

HUD’s mission revamp follows a similar effort at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which last month removed “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement.