Ben Carson, retired American neurosurgeon and former candidate for President of the United States, speaking at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. Reuters

Ben Carson, President-elect Donald Trump's choice to lead the department of Housing and Urban Development, has clarified that he did not, in fact, live in public housing as a child. Instead, the Cabinet nominee described his mother’s efforts to keep their family out of public housing throughout his childhood as a bid to avoid the so-called "danger" inside government-assisted living spaces.

"Despite what you may have heard from people, she wanted to make sure that we didn't live in public housing" Carson said in a speech on Thursday night to a group of students and faculty at Yale University in Connecticut. "There was a lot danger there, and she wanted to shield us from that danger."

The former neurosurgeon was clarifying an incorrect statement made from a friend in a New York Times article Monday in which Carson’s family was said to have lived in a development owned by the federal agency he’s been picked to lead.

Carson revealed further details this week about his living situation as a child growing up in Boston, noting he thought he wouldn’t live past his mid-twenties. His mother took him and his brothers "to live with relatives in tenements" after divorcing his father, Carson said Thursday night.

"There was pretty horrendous violence ... gangs, broken glass, and boarded up windows and doors, murders — I had two cousins who were killed," Carson said. "I remember as a 9-year-old kid, sitting on the ghetto stairs, looking to the building across the street, out of which all the windows had been broken. And there was a sunbeam shining through, and it made me think about my future. And I remember thinking I probably won't make it to 25."

Carson’s latest comments came as Democrats and Republicans spar over whether the former GOP presidential candidate, who has never held elected office, is qualified to lead the billion-dollar federal agency. Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described Carson as "disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified," writing "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" in a statement posted to Twitter Monday.

That critique was met with immediate backlash from Trump’s allies in D.C., including Gov. Mike Huckabee, who wrote on Twitter: "Fancy Pelosi says he’s not qualified; is she racist or just dumb?"

Meanwhile, Carson is expected to accept the president-elect’s nomination for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, though he reportedly had no interest in serving in Trump’s cabinet just a few weeks ago. "Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he's never run a federal agency," the former presidential candidate’s longtime aid Armstrong Williams told the Hill on Nov. 15. "The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency."