HUD Secretary Ben Carson told Newsmax TV on Thursday that that his agency would tap into a little-used federal program that requires builders for hiring low-income residents to work on construction projects.
"We're going to put much more emphasis on Section 3, which requires HUD builders to use low-income residents as employees during the construction of these various developments and in the redevelopment of places," Carson, 65, who took over the Department of Housing and Urban Development last month, told "The Joe Pags Show" in an interview.
"It's largely ignored right now," he said of the program, enacted in 1968 under the Johnson administration. "We're going to change that by emphasizing it in a different way and incentivizing people to use it.
"Most major construction and reconstruction projects are known about well more than a year in advance," Carson explained. "If you know that already, why not prepare the people, begin to train the people, ahead of time — so that when you're ready to do it, you have the workforce that’s necessary?
"If you give them those skills, you're giving them something that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
"It's not how many people we can get into public housing," Carson said. "It's how many people we can get out of it."
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He said the effort fits squarely with his HUD objectives.
"It was designed because it was recognized that there were a number of people in our country who were disadvantaged but who were still very much in need of housing and in need of security," Carson told Pags. "That's what it was designed for.
"We're expanding that mission to developing communities and neighborhoods in a way that they can be nurturing places that can really help to develop a full potential of all of our people.
"That means working across silos and basically having a holistic approach to the way we do things — education, jobs, healthcare, transpiration," the retired pediatric neurosurgeon said. "All of those things are involved in creating the right kind of atmosphere."
Carson, who quit the presidential race last year, said that he was winning Democratic support for his agenda.
"I've talked to a lot of people on the other side about some of these programs," he said.
"They, for the most part, actually like them.
"When they actually sit down and listen and we engage in a dialogue, they begin to see what the real effects are."
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