Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson responded to criticisms Wednesday of a viral exchange when he misheard Rep. Katie Porter as mentioning “Oreos” while she was asking questions about REOs, a term used in the real estate industry to refer to properties owned by banks or other lenders after a foreclosure.
“The fact of the matter is I was having difficulty hearing her and of course I’m very familiar with foreclosed properties and with REOs. I’ve read extensively about them, knew about them even as a teenager there was a lot of blighted areas in Detroit where I grew up,” Mr. Carson said on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co” show.
“The REO portfolio just over the last 10 years has dramatically decreased by tenfold. You know 65,000 down to 6,500. I suspect when Katie Porter was an expert in this area, things were very different. That’s why I invited her to speak with our staff that deals with these so they can bring her up to date. Maybe she would then be able to understand what’s going on.” he said.
Ms. Porter said the exchange with Mr. Carson left her “disappointed” as she was trying to ask “serious questions about serious problems that Americans are facing.”
Mr. Carson joked about his blunder on social media and even sent a family-size pack of Double Stuf Oreos to Ms. Porter’s office, which she did not find amusing.
“While I was pleased to receive correspondence [Oreos] from him what I’m looking for is answers. So I hope this is the first of a series of things that he sends to my office and I’m looking forward to receiving substantive answers as to how we can better help homeowners who find themselves struggling to make ends meet,” she said.