On a long flight, I meet a kindred spirit: Ben Carson

The U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development is a champion of “opportunity zones.”

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson (AP Photo/Zach Gibson, File)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson (AP Photo/Zach Gibson, File)

A random seat re-assignment on a recent cross-country flight had me a bit miffed until I met the man next to me, Dr. Ben Carson, the U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development. For someone who has spent the better part of his adult life investing in and managing commercial and apartment properties, it was a gift to sit next to the chief housing policymaker.

We have a lot in common personally, with three adult children and the sort of responsibilities that come with being a father and husband. We both chuckled about stories of our contrarian approaches to thinking about problems and how sometimes it’s gotten us into a bit of trouble.

I spent the next few days researching his interest in supply-side solutions and focus on reducing regulation as a way to get at the cost of housing. “Fifty years of heaping regulation into the development cycle just keeps adding cost,” Carson is quoted saying. “We can do better.”

Carson’s concerned about cultural issues at play with overall neighborhood health, as well, noting a pervasive NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) attitude in too many places that is making it hard to solve some problems in some areas of the country.

He’s excited about some new public-private solutions, including the new “opportunity zones” ushered in by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, which he says present an incredible opportunity for people to take unrealized capital gains that would normally be invested in more traditional vehicles and focus them on areas that are neglected. They are are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities by offering tax advantages. His department will publish one more round of guidelines in a few weeks, he says, which will help bring clarity to some remaining issues and stimulate investment. Many areas of Everett and Snohomish County include designated opportunity zones and will benefit, so his work here hits home, for sure.

Tom Hoban

Tom Hoban

Carson’s unique view of the role of housing and its impact on U.S. competitiveness and our human condition is what stands out. A few days prior, at an opportunity-zone project in St. Louis, he was quoted saying, “We’re not going to be able to compete in a world where China and India have four times more people than we do unless we really get serious about developing our people.”

Using housing as a means to develop people? That might be a new and refreshing way of measuring success, one fitting the ethos of a man who has been helping and healing people his whole life.

Columnist Tom Hoban is chairman and co-founder of Hoban Family Office, a real estate investment and services enterprise in Everett.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Striking Starbucks employees talk to a woman who wanted to use the drive-thru but was turned away due to the strike on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, on Broadway in Everett, Washington. Workers at the 37th and Broadway store spent their morning picketing because a fellow employee had been fired the previous day in what the workers believe is an act of union busting. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett Starbucks workers go on strike after employee fired

The employee and her fellow union members claim she was fired for supporting the union. Starbucks denies it.

X
Property values soar 32% in Snohomish County due to hot housing market

Assessed values are up all across the county since last year. The impact on tax bills won’t be known for a few months.

Everett
Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Holly Burkett-Pohland, the owner of Burkett’s Home & Gift, outside of her new store front on Friday, June 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Everett gift store debuts in former J. Matheson space

For years, Holly Burkett-Pohland wanted to expand a business founded by her mother in 1978.

A Kenmore Air Cessna 208 Caravan. (Kenmore Air) 20220613
Kenmore Air to start daily flights from Paine Field to San Juans

Service begins July 14. Flights to Friday Harbor and Orcas Island airports take about 25 minutes.

Seattle Space Needle sues coffee chain over use of logo

The logo for Local Coffee Spot features a mug of hot coffee whose rising steam bears striking resemblance to the iconic tower.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Foes of state’s capital gains tax drop plans for initiative

I-1929 sponsors say they are confident a lawsuit challenging the legality of the tax will be successful.

Arlington
Smoother sailing: Arlington airport gets grant to fix runway

A $2.3 million federal grant will pave the way for a project to resurface the airfield’s main runway.

Workers build the first all electric plane, the Eviation Alice, on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  The plane is designed for regional travel and to carry nine passengers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Eviation moves tests of electric passenger plane to Moses Lake

The Arlington company said a bigger runway and flatter terrain are better suited to early testing of the commuter aircraft.

An artist's rendering of the new Funko warehouse in Buckeye, Arizona. (Funko) 20220407
Funko warehouse layoffs begin this week in Everett, Puyallup

The layoffs, announced in April, are part of a plan to move distribution operations to Arizona.

Rendering of the front entrance of Spruce Elementary School in Lynnwood. (Edmonds School District)
Police: Edmonds schools sent $2.7 million check to fraudster

Police say the fraudster posed as a contractor for a new elementary school. A bank caught it at the last second.

Looking north, an aerial view of Paine Field in Everett. (Paine Field / Snohomish County) 20220605
Paine Field development plan envisions an expanded terminal

Once Sea-Tac Airport reaches capacity, the Everett airport is on the short list to absorb unmet demand by passengers.