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AMBRIDGE (KDKA) — You know it’s an election year when national figures come to town to visit with local elected officials.
On Monday, it was Ben Carson, former presidential candidate and now Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, visiting with Congressman Keith Rothfus at a housing project in Beaver County.
“One of the reasons I was very interested in coming to this particular development is because it’s been around for a long time – 1943,” said Carson.
After reading a story to some children, Carson toured one of the townhouses at Economy Village in Ambridge, public housing managed by the Beaver County Housing Authority.
“When you look at the various complexes, they are in very, very good shape. And it goes to show what can happen when you have the appropriate type of oversight and management,” noted Carson.
“To see a development like this where things are being done right, and then you take that as a best practice and you look at other housing authorities and how they are doing. It’s great to have him here and highlight some of the great things that have been done with the local housing authority,” added Rothfus, a Sewickley Republican.
Despite the good news at this complex, Secretary Carson said affordable housing is still a crisis.
His immediate concern: “to take care of the tremendous backlog of individuals in need of affordable housing. It really is quite a crisis. It’s a crisis. You cannot describe it in any other way than that.”
Affordable housing means a family doesn’t pay more than 30 percent of gross income for housing costs, including utilities.
With 30 percent of Americans now renting, demand for rental units is going up.
America needs 4.6 million new rental units over the next dozen years.
Carson insists that government can’t solve this alone.
“The real answer is somewhere in between where we have federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector, as well as the non-profits, as well as the faith-based organizations, working together, focusing on a problem, fully recognizing that disadvantaged people in our society are resources,” Carson said.
Carson was clearly here to boost Rothfus who is in a battle with Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb of Mt. Lebanon.
Beaver County, which voted for President Trump by a wide margin, is a key battleground.
Besides Ambridge, Carson and Rothfus also met with officials from and toured other parts of the county like Aliquippa and Beaver Falls.
The election is just 11 weeks from Tuesday.