Housing activists are gearing up for a protest during an expected appearance by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson tomorrow in Baltimore.
Local and federal officials, however, are declining to confirm whether the event is still on.
Calls to the HUD press office have gone un-returned, and there was scant information available from the Henderson-Hopkins school where Carson is scheduled to speak.
“All I know is, it’s happening in the afternoon,” a staffer at the school said today, referring a caller to HUD officials in Washington.
A call to the Johns Hopkins School of Education also was not returned.
Henderson-Hopkins is a K-8 city public school operated by Johns Hopkins University and located in East Baltimore not far from Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Carson once performed complex surgical procedures.
UPDATE: Raffi Williams, HUD communications director, called late today to say that Carson will have be having “private meetings with local leaders in Baltimore tomorrow,” but he said he could not confirm where they are taking place. He also sent a schedule for public appearances he said Carson will be making in Baltimore on Thursday. (See below)
Activists, meanwhile were eager to talk about why they plan to show up at the East Baltimore school at about 2:45 p.m.
“We are organizing a ‘welcome’ for him to protest the Trump/HUD budget proposal,” said Jeff Singer of City Advocates in Solidarity with the Homeless (CASH), one of several groups planning the action.
The Trump budget, he said, “reduces HUD funding by nearly 15% in FY 2018 and thereby manufactures evictions and homelessness among subsidized housing tenants.”
Singer, former president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless, said he wasn’t sure what the precise subject of Carson’s remarks will be.
“But making sure that poor people are not too comfortable and assuring that public dollars produce private profits are enduring Carson tropes,” he added drily.
Singer is among the critics who say the Trump administration’s HUD budget will drive seniors, people with disabilities, the working poor, children and other vulnerable people into homeless shelters and onto the streets.
They cite an increase in public housing rents proposed in the budget as well as the reduction of public housing operating funds next year and a 68% cut in public housing maintenance and repair.
From Raffi Williams, communications director U.S. Dept. Housing and Urban Development: