President-elect Donald Trump announced Monday morning that he intends to nominate retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson as his housing and urban development secretary.
"Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities," Trump said in a statement from his transition team. "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities.
"Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
“I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration,” Carson said.
“I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”
Carson signalled he was likely to accept the offer to join Trump's administration last week, after the president-elect tweeted he was "seriously considering" him for the role.
"An announcement is forthcoming about my role in helping to make America great again," Carson wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning, linking to a separate Facebook post in which he discussed his desire to make "our inner cities great for everyone":
Winning the presidential election was only the first step for those who love traditional America and do not wish to fundamentally change it. Now the hard work begins of restoring the values that made us great. We must bring back the compassion and the unity that empowers us and banish the divisiveness that weakens us. After serious discussions with the Trump transition team, I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone. We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid. An announcement is forthcoming about my role in helping to make America great again.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees policies concerning ownership of affordable homes, metropolitan community planning, low-income housing assistance, and homelessness.
The appointment of one of the nation's most prominent black conservatives to the role comes after Trump repeatedly excoriated America's inner cities and predominately black neighborhoods as "war zones" during his presidential run.
"You could go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats," he told an Ohio rally in August.
"It is a disaster the way African-Americans are living in many cases and in many cases the way Hispanics are living,” he said in making his case to minority voters. “And I say it with such a deep-felt feeling, what do you have to lose?"
In September Trump joined Carson for a brief tour of Carson's boyhood Detroit neighborhood.
"I just wanted him to get a good idea of where I grew up and wanted him to see some of the more blighted areas of Detroit," Carson told reporters.
Despite picking Carson for the role, Trump has not always spoken positively about his former Republican rival.
Earlier speculation suggested Carson could serve as Trump's secretary of health and human services, but the doctor had said he was not inclined to join the administration.
“The way I’m leaning is to work from the outside and not from the inside,” Carson told the Washington Post on Nov. 15. “I want to have the freedom to work on many issues and not be pigeonholed into one particular area.”
Carson had said he would prefer to act as an "ally" defending the administration in the media.
"I’ve said that if it came to a point where he absolutely needs me, I’d reconsider. But I don’t think that’s the situation with these positions,” he said.
"Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water, quite frankly," he added.
His close adviser Armstrong Williams told the The Hill that Carson was unlikely to serve in the Trump White House, because of his lack of bureaucratic experience.
"Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he's never run a federal agency," Williams said. "The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency."