HUD Sec talks education and literacy at rushed ribbon cutting ceremony in East Harlem

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Regional Administrator Lynne Patton pose with children and their new books. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is never in any rush to do anything – always taking his time on most decisions on housing or aide to Puerto Rico.

So when Carson presided over a positive project this morning entitled “Envision Center” at the Taino Towers NYCHA development in East Harlem – most of the media missed the ribbon cutting because they were still in the auditorium. Which begged the question: “Why’d they do that so fast?”

His regional administrator Lynne Patton was left holding the leftover ribbon and apologizing to members of the media who had to walk down two flights of stairs to only find Dr. Carson had already used his scalpel to cut the shiny red ribbon – then made a hasty exit as he had a tight schedule, handlers say.

Lynne Patton and other administrators after the hasty ribbon cutting – apologized to media for not allowing them to be in place. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Prior to the botched ribbon cutting ceremony, Carson spoke about the Envision Center at Taino Towers, which is one of a dozen projects that aims to bring together government services under one roof, including mental health care, job training, education and children services and recreation. HUD provided 600 books for the Envision Center with the idea to educate children and encourage them to read, thereby creating a generation of literate children who will excel when they mature.

Carson said by creating the Envision Center, it “maximizes public and private resources” and that there are those in political circles who “try to make us seen as the enemies.”

“We are not your enemies, we are trying to get people into self sufficiency and get them to read and get education – that’s real compassion,” Carson said. “We want to give people the tools necessary make the vision a success. That’s what the Envision Centers do, to connect local resources that are scattered around and difficult use because they are in different locations. This helps people to focus on one center and then, it is easier to work with the private sector who who help with funding.”

Carson said ultimately they seek to better educate children through reading, so they were donating the books to the center for children.  Carson said as a boy, his mother forced him to read – he was originally not a good student, but his mother forced him focus on school work saying “you are smart and you are better than this.” Carson became a brain surgeon and now HUD secretary.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson talks about the Envision Center at Taino Towers. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“When families have books in the home, or centers like Taino Towers have them freely available in abundance, children get interested. Books lead to literacy, and literacy to education. I became a doctor because of books. My brother Curtis became a rocket scientist because of books. And today I stand before you as HUD Secretary because, early on, books were passed on to me, just as HUD is passing them on to Taino Towers today.,” Carson said.

He said services being provided at Taino would cultivate his four pillars of self-sufficiency: character and leadership, educational advancement, economic empowerment, and health and wellness.

Tony Lanitgua, of Operation Equivalency talks to the crowd as officials and children stand on stage. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

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