Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is standing by his controversial comment that poverty is a "state of mind," but he says that "how a person thinks" is only one component that contributes to being poor.
"What I said is that it is a factor. A part of poverty can be the state of mind," he told NPR in an interview. "People tend to approach things differently, based on their frame of mind."
His agency, he says, wants "to find ways to make sure that people understand that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you, is you."
Carson, who grew up in poverty, said in a Sirius XM radio interview last month that "poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind." The comment drew widespread criticism from anti-poverty advocates who say it implies that poor Americans are at fault for their poverty and that they're better off without government aid.
Carson is scheduled to appear before a House appropriations subcommittee Thursday to defend President Trump's 2018 budget request for his agency.
Carson will likely face tough questions about his comments on poverty as well as the administration's proposal to cut more than $6 billion — or 13 percent — from HUD's budget. Among the programs targeted: public housing, housing vouchers, community development block grants, and other aid for low-income Americans.
The administration argues that much of this spending is ineffective and inefficient and that the money would be better spent elsewhere. And Carson tells NPR his agency's approach is aimed at breaking cycles of poverty long term. Housing advocates say the cuts would be devastating for millions of Americans who can't afford a place to live without assistance.
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