LeadingAge and National Church Residences, ranked No. 29 on the 2017 LeadingAge Ziegler 150 list of largest not-for-profit multisite senior living organizations based on assisted living beds, were among 164 national organizations recently sending a letter urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to keep creating “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination” in its mission statement.

The letter was in response to media reports that began around March 7, two days after HUD Secretary Ben Carson reportedly told staff members the mission statement would be updated.

The mission statement currently on the agency’s website reads: “HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.”

The proposed mission statement, according to the Huffington Post, would read: “HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.”

In their March 8 letter, LeadingAge and the other organizations and individuals told Carson the proposed change was “alarming.”

“We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reverse course and retain language in your agency’s mission statement that reflects one of HUD’s most important responsibilities: enforcement and promotion of the Fair Housing Act,” they wrote. They also requested a meeting with Carson.

“In addition to the potential removal of clear fair housing enforcement and promotion language, LeadingAge is also concerned that the draft mission statement would remove the phrase ‘utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life,’ ” Linda Couch, LeadingAge’s vice president of housing policy, wrote in a March 12 post on the LeadingAge website.

The same day as the organizations sent their letter to Carson, he reportedly told staff that he was not arguing for a change to the mission, but rather a change to the statement, which he said was “a bit wordy,” the Huffington Post reported.

In addition to the 164 national organizations, 404 state and local organizations and individuals signed the letter. Forty-one states and Washington, D.C., were represented in the latter group.

LeadingAge said the letter was coordinated by the National Fair Housing Alliance.