- Associated Press - Thursday, December 8, 2016

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says he doesn’t plan to dismantle social safety-net programs.

Dr. Ben Carson spoke Thursday night at Yale University, his alma mater.

He told an audience made up mostly of Yale students the suggestion he wants to end housing programs that help the poor are “a bunch of crap.”

“People come up with this stuff because it fits their agenda,” he said. “There is no way I would ever want to do that.”

But Carson said he does want to create mechanisms that would give people the opportunity to end their dependence on such programs and take care of their own needs.

“That’s what real compassion is all about in my opinion,” he said. “It’s not about patting people on the head and saying, ‘There, there, you poor little thing’ and then taking care of all your needs.”

Carson also said those who believe because that because he is a former doctor, he can only “know one little thing,” show their own “pea brains.”

Carson spoke for more than hour, detailing how he grew up in poverty amid tenements with broken windows and rose to become a renowned neurosurgeon.

He also outlined his conservative philosophy, saying he believes a conservative anti-poverty agenda should include compassion and a path to make sure everyone has a chance at a good education.

As HUD secretary, Carson would oversee a budget of nearly $50 billion that provides rental assistance for more than 5 million households.

Demand for that assistance is high due to housing costs rising faster than incomes. HUD also promotes home ownership with the Federal Housing Administration underwriting about 1 in 6 mortgages issued in the U.S. The agency is also charged with enforcing federal fair housing laws.

Yale freshman Kristina Cuello, 18, from Naples, Florida, said she had some concerns about Carson’s qualifications for the cabinet position, but came to the lecture with an open mind.

“I know a lot of people are saying that it won’t be a problem because if he can learn to do brain surgery he can learn how to do anything, but I do think it’s a position that somebody needs to come into with some knowledge of the subject area.”

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