weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Ben Carson touts incentives to get more low-income housing

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was in Las Vegas on Thursday to unveil two new incentives for developing affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods nationwide.

Speaking at the SALT Conference at the Bellagio, Carson said the government would slash fees and expedite the application process for those who build and rehabilitate apartments in low-income areas designated as Opportunity Zones.

The federal program allows investors to reduce and defer capital gains taxes if they reinvest the money in an Opportunity Zone.

“That’s really the key, creating advantages for private developers to come in,” Carson said after the conference during a meeting with the Review-Journal’s editorial board. “There is so much more money in the private sector than there is in the government, it’s not even close.”

The incentives debuted Thursday include lowering application fees for certain apartment mortgage insurance programs — from $3 to $1 per thousand dollars of the requested mortgage amount — and designating underwriters to expedite the application process.

“One of the complaints in the past has been it takes so long to get anything done. You’re frequently talking not just weeks. You’re frequently talking years,” Carson said. “I’m not sure how fast it can be done because no one has ever concentrated before on doing it fast, quite frankly.”

The incentives are the latest step in Carson’s strategy of addressing the nation’s affordable housing crisis by encouraging public-private partnerships, reducing fees and loosening government regulations.

“My general approach is let the market work,” he said.

On Thursday, Carson said he approved of state tax credit programs mirroring a federal one aimed at encouraging investment in affordable rental housing. The Nevada Legislature is considering creating such a program here.

And Carson reiterated his commitment to the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which allows aging public housing to be rehabilitated or rebuilt by transferring it to the private sector. Low-income residents would get first crack at living in the homes.

“I would like to see all public housing converted,” Carson said.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Former Nevada Sen. John Ensign divorces wife

Former Sen. John Ensign, whose political career began to unravel in 2009 after an affair with a top aide’s wife came to light, has divorced his wife of 31 years, Darlene.

Iran says 17 nationals allegedly recruited by CIA arrested

The official said the 17 were recruited by the CIA and had “sophisticated training” but did not succeed in their sabotage missions.

NYC mayor calls for probe as Con Edison cut power to 30K in heat

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation Monday of power outages that came at the end of this weekend’s oppressive heat, saying he no longer trusts utility Con Edison after it decided to turn off power to thousands of customers.