Editor's Note: This story was updated on Dec. 6, 2016.

Despite a lack of housing experience, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has been tapped to be the nation’s next top housing official.

President-elect Donald Trump announced today that Carson is his nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The move had been expected for weeks as Trump builds his cabinet.

Carson, who ran against Trump in a large primary field for the Republican presidential nomination, is an unconventional choice for the job. He has little experience in housing policy or in running a government agency.

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi issued the harshest criticism of Trump’s nominee, saying “Dr. Ben Carson is a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice to lead a department as complex and consequential as housing and urban development.

“Our country deserves a HUD secretary with the relevant experience to protect the rights of homeowners and renters, particularly in low-income and minority communities, and to ensure that everyone in our country can have access to safe and affordable housing without facing discrimination or homelessness.

“There is no evidence that Dr. Carson brings the necessary credentials to hold a position with such immense responsibilities and impact on families and communities across America.”

Rick Lazio, head of the affordable housing group at the Jones Walker law firm, was rumored to be a candidate for the job and would have been a popular choice with many in the affordable housing industry. The four-term congressman said he recently spoke with Carson.

“Dr. Ben Carson has an inspirational life story,” Lazio said. “He transcended the challenges that confronted him growing up in poverty in Detroit, became one of the most gifted pediatric neurosurgeons in the world, and, in the process, became a national role model. He can now take his experiences, intellect, and leadership qualities to focus attention on the silent and growing housing crisis that is facing America.

“I had a lengthy and detailed discussion with Dr. Carson over the past few days, and I am impressed by his passion for housing issues and his determination to meet the many growing challenges facing HUD. As someone who has spent years fighting for more and better affordable housing, I'm excited by the prospect of Dr. Carson mobilizing support to confront this silent crisis. And I believe that Dr. Carson's renowned expertise in health care gives him a platform to effectively explore the connections between health and housing.

“During our discussion, I was impressed by Dr. Carson's exceptional intellect and commitment to find solutions that break the back of entrenched poverty in America. Under Dr. Carson, HUD is positioned to provide critical leadership in meeting president-elect Trump's goal of revitalizing America's communities. He is an innovative thinker and an articulate and effective spokesperson. Under his leadership, HUD can be a part of the solution to the housing challenges of our nation.”

Other affordable housing leaders are also being open-minded and diplomatic.

“Despite his apparent lack of affordable housing experience, with his communication skills Dr. Carson has the ability to bring the message of poverty alleviation to people nationwide, and I would hope he would quickly learn the importance of HUD and would try to make it better, stronger, more efficient,” said Bob Moss, chairman of the Housing Advisory Group and national director of governmental affairs at CohnReznick.

“Carson is a very skilled speaker, maybe one of the best we’ll see in this role, and if he hits on the right direction and takes the message around the country, he could help make the case for affordable housing,” Moss said. “Clearly, he has a strong relationship with the president-elect, which will help advance the cause.”

Moss added that “poverty alleviation is a big part of House speaker Paul Ryan’s agenda and that could foster a compact between the next president, speaker Ryan and secretary Carson on the importance of HUD programs in poverty alleviation.”

Given HUD’s multifaceted portfolio, National Housing Conference (NHC) leaders said they believe appointments to deputy and assistant secretary posts will offer more insight into the future direction of the agency.

NHC said it is looking forward to working with the agency to help meet the housing needs of all in America.

“HUD has a crucial role to play in responding to the shortage of affordable rental housing as well as in local efforts to deconcentrate poverty,” said Chris Estes, NHC president and CEO. “Having access to an affordable home is the foundation for good health, educational success and opportunity for all Americans, and Dr. Carson has the ability to make a significant positive impact on the lives of millions of Americans through a strong commitment to the vital work of this agency.”

Terri Ludwig, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, pointed out Trump’s call to invest in America’s infrastructure and inner cities.

“Investments in quality, affordable housing must be a part of that agenda,” Ludwig said at the end of November. “Today more than one in four families who rent their homes—11.4 million households in total – are “housing insecure,” spending at least half of their monthly income on housing. This unprecedented affordable housing crisis not only damages the health and economic prospects of millions of people in America, it’s also a drag on our country’s economic growth.”

She also stressed the organization’s desire to work with the new administration.

“Enterprise will work with president-elect Trump, his nominee for HUD secretary, incoming members of the next administration, and the 115th Congress to create an infrastructure of opportunity for low-income families,” Ludwig said.

Concerns surface

What little is known about Carson’s housing position is concerning to affordable housing advocates.

Carson blasted the Obama’s administration’s fair housing efforts in a 2015 opinion piece for The Washington Times.

“Dr. Carson published an editorial describing fair housing as an Obama administration ‘experiment,’ revealing a fundamental misunderstanding of obligations that have been around since 1968, the year the Fair Housing Act was made law,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), last month. “A community’s obligation to affirmatively further fair housing is not new–what is new is the data, tools, and guidance that the Obama administration provided to enable communities to better meet their fair housing obligations.”

With just one in four of the lowest-income households receiving needed housing assistance, the NLIHC is urging the incoming administration to commit to expanding proven solutions to end homelessness and housing poverty.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) also expressed her concerns on Twitter. She said, "Unless I hear a dramatic change in Carson’s views on gov’s role in supporting safe, affordable housing, I will oppose his nomination."