Donald Trump has nominated former opponent Ben Carson as the secretary of housing and urban development, according to an announcement from the president-elect’s transition team.

In a statement on Monday, Trump said he was “thrilled to nominate” Carson, saying he “has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities”.

“Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans.”

Carson had previously taken himself out of the running to serve in Trump’s cabinet amid speculation that the retired neurosurgeon was being considered to head the Department of Health and Human Services. A Carson spokesperson said he did not feel he had the experience to run a federal agency and did not want to assume a role “that could cripple the presidency”.

Carson signalled his thinking had changed in a Facebook post previewing Monday’s announcement, in which he hinted at a possible position at the federal agency tasked with overseeing America’s fair housing laws and urban development policies.

Related: Nikki Haley chosen to serve as Trump’s US ambassador to United Nations

“After serious discussions with the Trump transition team, I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone,” Carson wrote in a Facebook post. “We have much work to do in strengthening every aspect of our nation and ensuring that both our physical infrastructure and our spiritual infrastructure is solid.”

Carson and Trump feuded bitterly during the Republican presidential primaries, with Trump at one point characterizing Carson as having a “pathological temper” akin to the illness of a child molester.

But Carson endorsed Trump in March, saying the two men had “buried the hatchet”, and went on to be one of the real estate mogul’s most loyal supporters for the duration of the election campaign.

Trump’s decision to tap Carson as the housing and urban development (HUD) secretary followed his announcement nominating the South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, as ambassador to the United Nations. Haley and Carson are the first people of color chosen by Trump to serve in his cabinet. Haley is also the first woman named for a top-level post in the Trump administration.

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