A Letter to Dr. Ben Carson from Jane Graf

Dear Dr. Carson,

I would like to congratulate you on your recent nomination for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As the CEO of Mercy Housing, an affordable housing nonprofit with a 35-year history of developing, owning, and managing affordable housing across the United States, I have high hopes and expectations for your leadership.

You come to HUD at a pivotal moment: as the economy slowly recovers from the recession, people living in this great country still struggle.

We all know the challenges: millions of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, just one unexpected expense away from homelessness. One in four renters spends half their paycheck on housing costs. Tens of thousands of veterans sleep on the street. Millions of children are homeless. And millions of seniors wonder if they’ll have a place to live in the coming years.

As Secretary of HUD, you will have many tools at your disposal. You will have the power of a government agency behind you that provides a safety net to the most vulnerable in our communities.  While your experience is not based in the world of housing and community development, I have hope.

I am hopeful that, as someone who has served disenfranchised communities, you understand that a stable home is a critical part of achieving one’s full potential.

I am hopeful that, as a retired physician, you know how intimately health and housing are connected, and how, without stable, quality housing, a person’s health will suffer.

I am hopeful that you will use your superior communication skills to bring attention to the affordable housing needs of our country and surround yourself with highly skilled professionals familiar with the complex issues at HUD to support and advise you.

And finally, I am hopeful that you will use the resources of organizations like Mercy Housing, who have partnered with HUD since its inception. We stand ready to collaborate with you in solving these complex community problems and meeting the challenges ahead.

As you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your new position, I invite you to take a tour of one of the 300 communities we own and manage, as well as the many affordable housing communities operated by our colleague organizations all over the country. You will meet some of the residents who inspire me every day. I am certain that their stories and life journeys will inspire you too.


Jane Graf,

President and CEO of Mercy Housing