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Trump turns to Carson to lead HUD

Donald Trump has tapped Ben Carson (left) to serve as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former Campaign 2016 rival Ben Carson to become secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump’s decision, announced early Monday by his transition office, comes as the real estate mogul continues a series of interviews, meetings with aides and other deliberations aimed at forming his administration.

In a statement, Trump says he’s ‘‘thrilled to nominate’’ Carson, saying he ‘‘has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.’’

Carson has been coy about joining the new administration, saying shortly after Trump’s election victory that he wasn’t certain he’d fit into a Cabinet-style role. The discussion at that time centered on speculation that Carson might be selected to head the sprawling Department of Health and Human Services.


Trump’s statement Monday says, ‘‘Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans.’’

Last week, Trump announced that he planned to nominate former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department. He chose Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education and Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, to be transportation secretary. Trump also has turned to retired Marine General James Mattis to be secretary of defense.

A retired neurosurgeon, Carson has often recounted his childhood as the son of a single mother in inner-city Detroit in his books and motivational speeches. In his 1996 autobiography ‘‘Gifted Hands,’’ Carson wrote of the humiliation he felt using food stamps from his mom to pay for bread and milk, and said how he began to excel at school only after receiving a free pair of glasses that allowed him to see the lessons written on chalk boards.


Carson has not said whether his family ever lived in federally-funded housing or received Section 8 subsidies to help pay rent. But as a political figure he has criticized such public assistance programs for creating ‘‘dependency’’ on the government among low-income minorities.

‘‘I'm interested in getting rid of dependency, and I want us to find a way to allow people to excel in our society, and as more and more people hear that message, they will recognize who is truly on their side and who is trying to keep them suppressed and cultivate their votes,’’ Carson said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a Boston-based group focused on regional collaboration and growth, said Carson’s personal rags-to-riches story is not enough to qualify him for the position.

“Dr. Carson has no experience running housing programs, overseeing financial incentives, or managing public agencies,” Marc Draisen, executive director of the MAPC, said in a statement. “Among Republicans office-holders and program managers, there are hundreds of more highly qualified candidates.”

“Lots of us were hoping for a HUD secretary with experience in housing,” Draisen said Monday morning, adding: “We have no idea what he will do.”

Globe staff member Sean Smyth contributed to this report.