When Donald Trump nominated Dr. Ben Carson as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, more than a few people, even fans of the two men, scratched their heads in puzzlement. Surely the famous neurosurgeon would be a better fit at Health and Human Services or perhaps surgeon general. The best that can be said is that Carson grew up in poverty living public housing and would thus have a unique perspective running a sprawling department with a $50 billion annual budget.

However, writing in Real Clear Health, Ike Swetlitz suggests that Carson’s medical training actually makes him a great fit for running America’s public housing system. The article suggests that where and how you live has a very high impact on how healthy you are.

The image of public housing projects as dilapidated places ridden with crime and drug abuse is sadly an accurate one for the most people.

Residents of public housing have a greater chance of winding up in the emergency room and of contracting chronic illnesses. Doctors who diagnose illnesses usually will try to investigate the environment where a patient lives. Public housing has become a toxic environment for disease and injury in too many cases.

Measures like regular pest control service, creating neighborhood watch organizations, and making sure that units are kept clean could go a long way toward making public housing more livable.

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Donald Trump

Stable housing with decreased crime and drug abuse would also have a major impact on the mental health of residents.

Of course, no evidence exists right now whether Dr. Carson will bring his medical knowledge to bear to the problems besetting public housing. No one who was in the interview sessions between Trump and Carson are revealing what was discussed. But Trump, if anything, has proven to be a savvy judge of people in his hiring practices in his various businesses.

His reality show “The Apprentice” with his signature catch phrase “You’re fire!” played on this aspect of the real estate tycoon turned future president.

In any case, the choice of Dr. Carson to head up HUD, which is usually led by academics and politicians, is an interesting outside the box move. Carson will do no worse than his predecessors and might very well exceed their performance.

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