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January 12, 2017

Temple, Penn professors sign open letter opposing Carson as housing secretary

A number of local educators have joined hundreds of housing experts from across the nation to relay a message to federal officials that Dr. Ben Carson, 65, should not be appointed as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The hundreds signed an open letter addressed to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs that says Carson is "completely unqualified to anticipate or promote appropriate solutions to the pressing housing and urban development needs facing our country."

Three professors from Temple University, nine from the University of Pennsylvania and two from the University of Delaware signed the letter, which is dated Jan. 10 and is no longer accepting signatures.

The letter is mostly made up of educators specializing in subjects ranging from African-American studies and sociology to urban studies and architecture.

The message lays out three reasons why the Senate committee should reject President-elect Donald Trump's nomination, including Carson's lack of experience in government and housing development, "lack of understanding" on the issues surrounding poverty and his "disdain for HUD's mission."

"We cannot imagine that a person with Dr. Carson’s views about fair housing, the role of government, and the roots of poverty could possibly be an advocate for the very programs for which HUD is responsible," the letter reads. "We believe that the appointment of Dr. Carson would severely jeopardize the well-being of the nearly 5 million households across the country for whom HUD is their only means of securing housing."

Trump nominated the retired neurosurgeon, who ran against the president-elect, to lead the department in early December

“Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water, quite frankly," Carson told The Washington Post in November

Carson's confirmation hearing was held at 10 a.m. Thursday. He said that he wants "to help heal America's divisiveness, and I think HUD is positioned to help in that healing," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Carson also made references to his childhood and growing up in poverty in Detroit.

“Government can play a very important role,” he said, according to the newspaper. “When you think of HUD traditionally, it is putting roofs over the heads of poor people, but it has the opportunity to be so much more.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for addressing the nation's housing needs and enforces housing laws. Trump's Cabinet nominations are expected to be decided on by the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks.