By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a former presidential rival, on Wednesday accepted an offer from President-elect Donald Trump to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a Carson spokesman.
As recently as last week, Carson had told The Washington Post he was not interested in a Cabinet job, saying, "Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water."
But he and Trump met on Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York, and earlier on Wednesday Carson posted on Facebook that after the talks he felt "that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone."
The spokesman, Armstrong Williams, said Carson was offered the position of HUD secretary and had accepted it, the Journal reported.
Carson, 65, reportedly also had been considered for the posts of surgeon general and head of Health and Human Services Department, which would have been more likely posts for someone who became a highly respected neurosurgeon during more than 30 years at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Carson was a frequent Trump target during the campaign but became one of his most high-profile African-American supporters after Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination.
At HUD, Carson will lead an agency whose mission has been to help middle- and low-income people find homes and also runs a program aimed at replacing distressed public housing with mixed-income neighborhoods.
In a July 2015 opinion piece for the Washington Times, Carson gave some indication of his views on housing policy, criticizing actions by the Obama administration to reduce racial segregation as having the potential to "make matters worse."
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis)