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HUD Secretary Ben Carson mixes up a real estate term and Oreo sandwich cookies

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5/21/2019 Nicholas Wu

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WASHINGTON — An REO, or “real estate owned,” refers to a kind of property owned by a lender, like a bank, after a foreclosure. An Oreo is a kind of delicious sandwich cookie.

In a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Tuesday morning, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson mixed the two terms up.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., was attempting to ask Secretary Carson about disparities in REO rates. According to Porter, Federal Housing Administration loans have far more properties that become real estate owned, than other loans from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

“I would also like to ask you to get back to me, if you don’t mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?” asked the congresswoman.

a man holding a microphone: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson testifies at a House Financial Services Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2019.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) © Andrew Harnik, AP Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson testifies at a House Financial Services Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2019.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) “An Oreo…” replied Carson.  

“R, no not an Oreo. An R-E-O.” shot back Porter.  

“Real estate?” asked Carson.

“What’s the O stand for?” said Porter.

“E-organization?” asked Carson.  

The tense exchange came during a hearing about oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has also been met with criticism over recent proposals to scale back housing subsidies for lower-income Americans.  

HUD's plans to potentially remove undocumented immigrants and their U.S.-born children from subsidized housing also drew criticism from Democrats on the committee.

“It seems only logical that tax-paying American citizens should be taken care of first. It’s not that we’re cruel, mean-hearted. It’s that we are logical. This is common sense. You take care of your own first,” said Carson.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., responded.

“Mr. Secretary, the 'D' in HUD does not stand for deportation."  

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: HUD Secretary Ben Carson mixes up a real estate term and Oreo sandwich cookies

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