U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is proposing changes that he says will not scale back fair housing enforcement, unlike what critics say. Carson, who was the keynote speaker at Thursday’s Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Jefferson City, says the current system is too complicated. He says the Obama-era regulations led to 63% of HUD submissions getting rejected or having major changes.

From left: Gov. Mike Parson and U.S. HUD Secretary Ben Carson

“It wasn’t solving anything,” says Carson. “So we had to go and say ‘What is the real cause of segregation?’ It’s economic. People cannot afford to live anywhere else. So we have economic segregation.”

He says the proposed rule would reduce the burden on local governments to meet current regulations.

“They have to demonstrate what are the three things what are precluding the development of affordable housing and then give us a reasonable plan for how they are going to address that. Future funding obviously will be influenced by what they’re able to do. It doesn’t roll back anything,” he says.

Carson says the Fair Housing Equal Opportunity Office is more active than it’s ever been.

“All you have to do is go and look at the cases. We’re not rolling back anything,” he says. “But we’re talking about doing things in a logical and an effective way. I know that ruffles a lot of feathers. People like to do stuff the way that it’s been done. But coming from a scientific background, I’m for looking at evidence – not for looking at how things actually work.”

Fair housing advocates tell the Washington Post the changes would reduce the financial pressure on municipalities to end residential segregation, as required by federal law. Diane Yentel with the National Low Income Housing Coalition tells the Washington Post the proposed rule entirely ignores the racial desegregation requirements of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

Meanwhile, Carson says there will be consequences against a Kansas City property company under federal investigation. He would not elaborate about the situation involving TEH Realty, which has failed to meet federal guidelines for 81 residences. KMBC-TV reports the properties have major safety and health concerns and the company problems could end up forcing residents to move.

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