Detroit — Housing Secretary Ben Carson announced Wednesday the launch of a Housing and Urban Development program designed to help those receiving housing assistance, with the first "hub" located in Detroit.
The EnVision Center initiative will build hubs, with a combination of for-profit and nonprofit funding, that will serve as incubators for four key pillars, Carson said at the Great Future Gala at the Detroit Athletic Club.
Carson’s spokesman Raffi Williams did not immediately have information on the cost, or where the funding was coming from.
“Character and leadership, educational advancement, economic empowerment, and health and wellness are just the beginning of what will be offered at the hubs,” said Carson.
“We need to think differently about how we can empower Americans to climb the ladder of success,” said Carson. “The EnVision Center’s are designed to help people take the first few steps towards self-sufficiency.”
HUD will launch 10 pilot EnVision Centers across the country as well as a mobile app.
The first EnVision Center will be located in Detroit, he said.
The centers will address the issue of long-term skills and training. The mobile app will have job listings and the centers will provide resources and guide GED training programs.
“Opportunity is the greatest door to equality, and for so many those, doors have been closed and the EnVision Centers will make those available,” Carson said. “It will leverage public, private partnerships to help American families become independent and provide for their own futures.”
Carson also spoke on the U.S. inmate population and said training for employment in prison would help them transition back into society.
“It is our responsibility to change things,” Carson said. “We can only accomplish it if we are willing to work together, all of us, recognizing that we are all in the same boat.”
George Jackson of St. Clair Shores said he’s wants to learn more about the hubs.
“He had great goals, but I’d like to learn a bit more about the initiative and how they plan to implement it,” said Jackson, who works with the Boys and Girls Club.
“It will be a great resource not just for those in Detroit but across the country,” said Belleville Mayor Kerreen Conley.
Mobile app will be demonstrated on Facebook on Thursday, a sign, said Tina Lyon, that the initiative is progressing.
“The app sounds fantastic and a wonderful resource, so I’m impressed they already have an app launching tomorrow," the Southfield resident said. "It shows they have everything put together and have been working for some time."
Carson, a Detroit native and retired neurosurgeon, also told the crowd that his biggest influence was his mother, who died a few weeks ago.
Carson became Housing secretary earlier this year in President Donald Trump’s administration after challenging Trump for the GOP presidential nomination last year. He has vowed to fight homelessness and has drawn on his experience as a doctor to suggest that government assistance shouldn’t become a way of life.
Carson has been considered a hero and motivational speaker in African-American communities for his accomplishments in medicine, and became a prominent speaker in conservative circles after entering politics.