Why Ben Carson’s medical experience matters at HUD

Ben Carson’s nomination as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development raised some eyebrows, and not just because Carson had recently said he wasn’t interested in running a federal agency.

The responsibilities of the job — running a federal agency whose budget in 2016 neared $50 billion and that is responsible for helping local housing authorities manage over a million households — struck some as an odd fit for his training as a neurosurgeon.

The quality of your home can also have a direct impact on your health. Dr. Megan Sandel, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, recalled an 8-year-old girl she saw in the intensive care unit 20 years ago. The child had terrible asthma, and Sandel couldn’t figure out why — until the family told her that they recently got a cat. The child was allergic to cats, but the family bought one anyway to get rid of a mouse in the child’s bed.

“The prescription I wanted to write was for a healthy home,” Sandel said. The bad house, she said, was “was ultimately the underlying illness. Asthma was the symptom of the disease.”

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