HUD’s Dr. Ben Carson chides Seattle’s approach to homelessness

Dec 10, 2019, 1:33 PM | Updated: 3:34 pm

Ben Carson...

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. (File photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

(File photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Dr. Ben Carson, United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Trump administration, says it’s time to set aside ideology and focus on solutions to homelessness in Seattle and beyond.

Rantz: ‘60 Minutes’ badly botches Seattle homelessness

Carson told KTTH’s Jason Rantz that high rent does play a factor, but there are other issues to consider as well.

“You have the largest regulations, the largest rent numbers, and subsequently the largest number of people who can’t afford the rent. But you have to recognized that as a society, we have done something that is almost unpardonable,” he described. “Back in the 80s, in our attempt to become compassionate, we took mentally ill people and tossed them out on the street.”

Coupled with an opioid crisis and other drug addictions, Carson said we’ve created an environment for a crisis. He believes bad policy also contributes to the problem.

“When you tell people this is a public space, therefore you can camp here, you can do whatever you want here, that’s not what a public space is,” he pointed out. “A public space is supposed to be available for the public. That means for all of the public, not for a group of people to come squat on and make everyone feel uncomfortable.”

Carson said leaders sometimes believe that line of thinking is compassionate, but in actuality, it has the opposite effect. He said local leaders need to acknowledge that we have citizens who have extreme needs and determine what they need for a “kind of life that will be acceptable.”

Good services, including counseling, also play a role in the solution.

For Seattle specifically, Carson believes the city needs laws that don’t encourage homelessness to move in. And second, for the people who are already living on the streets, he said the answer is “Housing First, Second, and Third.”

“Get them off the street. Housing Second is figure out why they were there in the first place. Housing Third is fix it. That’s what real compassion is,” he described. “If you just grab them and take them off the street and don’t do anything else, all you’re doing is inviting a continuation and an expansion of the problem.”

System failing to address Seattle homelessness

Carson said that in most cases, it’s not that policymakers are purposely trying to exacerbate the problem, it’s just that they haven’t thought the solution through, and don’t study the impact of their policies.

He suggested we really examine cities that don’t have a homeless problem, such as Tokyo, as well as cities in the Midwest. That being so, he also acknowledged the cost of living in many of those areas is much lower than places like San Francisco, which has a high rate of homelessness.

While it’s easy to blame one side or the other, Carson said it’s time to forget about the blame and concentrate on results, including long-term.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-7pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

A promotional poster for fentanylfacts.org provides what a Washington health agency believes are ke...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: One health department’s anti-fentanyl campaign actually pushes drug use

A new campaign from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department ends up encouraging kids to use fentanyl in a "safer" way. It's dangerous and will only make the crisis worse.

1 day ago

sound transit trees...

Max Gross

Gross: Sound Transit wanted to decimate trees; residents demanded better 

Lake Forest Park residents were livid when they heard about a potential new Sound Transit Project that would destroy tree life in the community.

3 days ago

Yakima City Council...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: Mayor scolded for calling 911 on ‘far right-wing’ signature gatherers

Not only were the petitioners acting lawfully while promoting mainstream views, it wasn't an emergency and should not have resulted in a call to 911.

5 days ago

Seattle Fire Department vehicles were spotted outside Seattle Police Department's West Precinct on ...

Jason Rantz

‘All clear’ given after suspicious package found outside Seattle Police West Precinct

A suspicious package with powder was found outside of the Seattle Police Department's West Precinct Wednesday.

5 days ago


Jason Rantz

Rantz: NewsBreak app striking ‘conservative’ opinions it doesn’t like

NewsBreak's X account messaged me in June, asking if I was interested in posting my content to their website and app. I was interested.

6 days ago

ACLU Marysville jail...

Jason Rantz

Rantz: ACLU of Wash. mad Marysville leaders may put criminals in jail

To Jazmyn Clark, a program director for the ACLU of Washington, jailing someone who keeps breaking the law is a draconian move.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

HUD’s Dr. Ben Carson chides Seattle’s approach to homelessness