HUD Sec. Ben Carson hosts roundtable in Harrisburg about zoning decisions

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development was in Harrisburg on Thursday for a roundtable with local and federal officials.

Dr. Ben Carson addressed the importance of zoning decisions being made locally. The discussion lasted about an hour at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

Carson says affordable and fair housing becomes easier by cutting bureaucratic red tape.

Last month, the Trump administration ended the 2015 Obama-era Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, forcing local governments to assess patterns of racial housing discrimination.

“There were those who tried to make it mean everything that they could think of to control local settings from the federal government. That’s not what it means,” Carson said.

Some have called the move racially motivated, but Carson disputes that, saying mounds of paperwork and analysis were a waste of time for localities to comply with.

“We want people to be able to realize their dreams and we want to create systems and ladders of opportunities so they can realize those dreams,” Carson said.

Carson pointed to other initiatives, including opportunity zones where private investments in low-income neighborhoods may be eligible for capital gain tax incentives.

“The people in our communities right here at home know what’s best for our communities and we want to be able to control that,” said Congressman Scott Perry.

The discussion focused on how to get the resources and approval to build affordable housing, including modular units.

“We here in rural Pennsylvania and across America have the ability to make sure we look out for one another without having a one size fits all approach,” said Congressman Fred Keller.

Carson says it’s not the job of the federal government to make these decisions, but should remain local.

Democrats disagree. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised to reinstate that fair housing rule if elected.

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