MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson visited Memphis to commemorate 50 years since Congress passed the Fair Housing Act.
He visited Winridge Elementary School in Hickory Hill where he talked with students and answered questions about his life and why he became a brain surgeon.
He then met with local organizers and beneficiaries of Agape Child and Family Services, a nonprofit operating in Hickory Hill, Whitehaven and Frayser.
Shakila Boyd was sensitive about everything she’d been through in the last three years since she had her daughter K’yanna.
“It just hurts bringing it back up now," she said.
But she found it in her to share her experience with Secretary Carson.
She had no where to live until she went to the Salvation Army and they connected her with Agape Child and Family Services.
"If you’re willing to help yourself, they’re going to help you," Boyd said.
“Agape is leading the two-generation model serving both parent and child holistically in the nation. We’ll serve up to 1,000 families in a three-year period,” Agape CEO David Jordan said.
Jordan described Agape as a faith-based organization that works out of nine Shelby County public schools and 10 apartment complexes. Part of the organization's funding comes from HUD.
"We began our HUD-funded program in 2001. We call it Families in Transition," Jordan said.
Carson said the program should provide a model for other partnerships in the country.
“This is a public school that has invited members of the faith community to talk about how do we actually get out of poverty. That’s the way were moving at HUD now,” Carson said.
Boyd now has her own home and attends school.
“I attend Concord Career College for [becoming] a sleep technician,” she said.
She said she knew she'd give her daughter a better future than she had.
WREG wanted to ask Carson how he justified using federal government funding for programs with religious motivations but we were unable to ask questions after the meeting.