Housing Secretary Ben Carson discusses McDougald Terrace, public housing concerns

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Ben Carson discusses public housing with ABC11
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Housing Secretary Ben Carson discusses public housing with ABC11

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- In an exclusive ABC11 interview, Housing Secretary Ben Carson said his office will release $35 million to provide carbon monoxide detectors for public housing authority communities.

And CO inspections will be mandatory.

"We are now making it part of the inspection process so it won't be a matter of taking people's words for it," Carson said. "We will be watching that as well as the thousands of other PHAs across the country.

The new requirement comes after more than 200 families in McDougald Terrace have been displaced since January, because of CO concerns discovered in old stoves and appliances.

The truth is, "the Mac" has been failing for years -- federal inspection reports show DHA public housing is the worst in the state. Units are scored from zero to 100 -- anything below 60 is failing. McDougald has received a 31.

ABC11 pressed Carson on accountability.

"If I were you, I would take that up with the local Public Housing Authority," Carson said. "People who actually know what all the facts are there. What disciplinary measures were taken? What the results were."

And when asked if there could be future cuts to federal housing?

"There's always a tension between how much money can you spend. The answer to that is a limited amount, and a fiscal responsibility to our children, our grandchildren and the people who come after us," Carson said. "We are always going to make sure that there is enough funding in the budget to take care of those people who we're are taking care of already."

The House passed a $300 million funding measure that would improve the health and safety of public housing.

Carson said the Senate is working on a similar spending plan.

Carson also said public and private partnerships are helping his office improve existing housing needs. Carson said he expects to visit Durham's public housing communities in the near future.